Back to School Backpack Posture

Posted on September 4, 2014

So, you’ve been back to school for a week now and had some time to start to break in that brand new backpack, but are you wearing it properly? Here are the top three things to consider when fitting your backpack:

    1. Use of straps
      • If you have a backpack, use both straps! With both straps, you’re dividing the weight in half, equally over both shoulders. Wearing just 1 strap not only puts more weight on one shoulder, but compresses one side of your spine and can lead to injury
      • If you have a “messenger”/laptop bag or gym bag, put the strap on one shoulder with the bag on the opposite hip (the strap should cross your chest). Make sure to switch this daily, or even a few times during your walk if it’s more than 5 minutes to share the weight evenly.

Description: backpack fitting
Click photo above for close-up

    1. Location of backpack
      The backpack should be centered along the mid-back with the bottom of the bag being about at the middle of the low back and NOT lower than the low back.

      • If you have the bag too high or low it will extend your low back too much and could result in pain.
      • If you have a messenger/laptop bag, it should rest comfortably centered on your outside hip, not lower.
    2. Weight and distribution of weight in backpack
      The backpack should NOT weigh more than 10-15% of your bodyweight

      • If you weigh 80 lbs, your bag should weigh no more than 12 pounds.

Description: backpack posture

  1. You should also put the heaviest items so that they’ll be closest to your body when wearing the bag

Don’t stop at fitting your backpack properly – that’s not all! You also need to try to have good posture with it on. Focus on keeping your head over your shoulders and shoulder blades slightly down and back.

These tips will help you get your books and other school supplies to class easily and safely. We know, having that backpack down covering your rump looks cool, but it’s not cool for your back!

– Dane Happeny, PT, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy

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