Back to School: Backpack & Back Pain Basics

Natacha S. Falcon, D.O. October 4th, 2012

Backpacks are packed and students are back in school! Half of these students are carrying twice the recommended weight on their back which may lead to back pain and stress injuries that may worsen over time.

When shopping for a backpack, it is important to purchase a backpack that fits the individual and not the size of the items being carried. Traditional style backpacks with two padded thick straps and a waist strap help to distribute the weight. The backpack, including the items in the backpack, should not weigh more than 10-15% of the student’s body weight. Organize the heavier items closest to the back. If the student already has back pain or will be carrying loads greater than 25 lbs, it is time consider a backpack on wheels.

It is also important to use proper body mechanics when lifting and applying your backpack. Also be aware of your surrounds when turning while wearing your backpack, so as to not hit another individual with the pack. Backpacks may also change your center of gravity, so be aware of this while climbing stairs or transferring from positions (ie. going from a standing to sitting position). While navigating classrooms and libraries it is equally important to be aware of your surrounding as many backpacks are placed on the floor and near walkways and pose a fall risk.

Protect your back, while back at school!…and don’t’ forget to sit up STRAIGHT!:-)

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