With the start of the school year, we’re often asked: “is carrying a heavy backpack bad for me?” While there are a lot of variables that go into answering that question, one thing we can say for sure is that carrying an excessively heavy bag, backpack causes a large number of students to experience back and neck pain early on in life. This is magnified by increasing the weight of backpacks and not carrying them properly.
Avoid back and neck pain with these simple tips for carrying your backpack
1. Research recommends that a backpack should never exceed 10-15% of the wearer’s body weight.
2. Distribute the weight of the contents. Heavy objects should be at the bottom and closer to your back. Lighter objects can be stored in the outer compartments.
3. Straps need to be on both shoulders! Wearing it on both shoulders helps to evenly distribute the weight and avoid placing too much stress on one side of the spine.
4. Wear the backpack close to your body. Your body should take on the weight of the pack, not your shoulders.
5. Waist and chest straps aren’t just for getting caught in things. If they come with the pack, wear them. It helps to distribute the weight more evenly.
If your child is experiencing increased back or neck pain, or numbness, weakness, or tingling in their arms, hands, or shoulders after carrying a backpack, you should seek an assessment from a physiotherapist.