As we begin the new year and may students return to school, and adults return to work let’s take a look at the importance of backpack safety. During this time school is halfway over and homework loads get heavier, so do backpacks. If you or you student are carrying anything heavier than 15% of their body weight, then they might just be failing in backpack safety.
Improper backpack wear can lead to faulty postures and even improper spinal alignment. You might think that bringing home all of your heavy books and/ or files is necessary, but that weight can damage muscles if regularly carried too much. The more that is carried, the more strain that is being put on the muscles. This can leave you and your muscles more vulnerable to injury.
So, what is the solution?
  • Keep it close: Put the heaviest books / objects closest to your back. The farther the weight is from your back, the harder your muscles have to work.
  • Never more than four below: A backpack should never hang more than four inches below your waist and should fit comfortably below the shoulders.
  • Don’t let it lean: Using only one strap puts extreme pressure on one side of the body. Slip on both straps for more even weight distribution.
  • Put on some padding: Look for backpacks with two widely padded shoulder straps to protect the shoulders and better distribute weight.
  • Wear the waist belt: Choosing a backpack with a waist belt (and using it!) can help transfer some of the weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso.
  • Clean it out: Regularly go through your backpack and make sure you need everything that’s in there. If you don’t, pull it out to help lighten your load.
  • Try out a new set of wheels: If your school allows it, consider a backpack on wheels. This helps forgo any weight issues by bearing a backpack that’s too heavy.