Back to School: Backpack Safety

backpack safetyBackpacks have become a must have for back to school. Students use their backpacks to carry an overabundance of books, papers, smart phones, video games, sports equipment and more. In fact, a recent  study found that the average backpack weighs about 14 pounds, or 15 percent of a middle school student's body weight.

With so many different designs on the market, choosing the right backpack sometimes becomes a challenge, but it’s an important decision. A properly fitted backpack can prevent the development of back pain.

Consider these backpack safety tips:
  • Adjust the straps so that the backpack rests evenly in the middle of the back and the bottom of the bag lies at the waist or belt level. 
  • Adjust the straps to allow free movement of the arms. (It should be easy to get the backpack on and off.) 
  • Position the straps so the weight of the backpack is more evenly distributed. 
  • Do not allow the weight of the backpack to exceed 10 to 15 percent of the individual’s body weight. 
  • Carry only those items needed for the day.
  • Keep the heaviest items closest to the back.
  • Avoid messenger style bags that can put unnecessary strain on the back, neck and shoulders, and over time, cause muscle imbalances and persistent back pain. 
If you still need help, a physical therapist can help choose the correct backpack and also fit it to specific body types and sizes. Additionally, a physical therapist can help to improve posture problems, correct muscle imbalances and treat pain that can result from ill-fitting and improperly used backpacks. 
For more information, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us with questions.
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