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Back To School Backpack Safety

How many of us have heard a student complain that his/her backpack is too heavy, or “I have so many books to carry.”  This is a common theme as the school year begins, and as homework demands grow on students along with the size of textbooks, so to the physical demands on the students and their bags. True complaints of bodily discomfort while wearing a backpack are not normal. A backpack that is poorly fitting,  worn incorrectly, or too heavy can put unnecessary stress on the back, neck,  and shoulders, leading to possible injury.   Here are some tips to avoid any aches and pains from a backpack:

  1. Only approximately 10-15% of your body weight should be in the bag. That means if you weigh 100 lbs, only carry 10-15 lbs. If your bag is heavy than that, lighten the load by carrying a few items in your arms.
  2. Load the largest items to the back of the bag. This puts the bulk of the weight closest to your back which is easier for your body to carry. Weight that is placed farther from the body pulls the body backward, and many students will adjust for this by bending over to keep from falling back. This is bad as it puts added stress on the low back.
  3. ALWAYS wear both shoulder straps, this helps distribute the weight across your body.  Using only one strap increases stress on one shoulder and causes the body to lean to the side which can produce low back and hip pain.
  4. Well padded straps are best for carrying heavier items. String strapped bags are NOT appropriate for carrying books and heavy folders as the straps can dig into the muscles along the shoulders and neck.
  5. The bottom of the bag should sit at the curve of the low back, NEVER by or below the butt. Increased weight down by the butt pulls on the back and can increase the risk of injury.

By following these 5 simple steps, students can easily avoid chronic issues related to carrying a bag around for several hours a day.

Remember parents, it is not normal for a student to feel low back, neck or shoulder pain from his her backpack. There are many bags out there that are stylish and still provide the required support, so that your student can be safe, healthy, and comfortable as he/she starts a brand new school year.