Back Pack Safety – Chris Awdycki, PT, MSPT

Although this school year will be like one we’ve never known before, there will still be some familiar aspects to going “back to school”. One of these things is that most of our children will be wearing backpacks on a daily or every other day basis. Believe it or not, choosing a good backpack is not as simple as picking a favorite color or a favorite brand. Choosing a poorly fit backpack can cause back pain, postural issues, and/or alignment issues that can then lead to other joints hurting.
Follow these tips when choosing a backpack to provide the most support and comfort:
1. Look for wide and padded shoulder straps
2. The back should be padded as well
3. A backpack with a waist and/or chest strap is a plus as it helps to keep the weight of the bag closer to your child’s body and helps maintain their balance
4. Backpacks with multiple compartments are key to help distribute the weight of the items more evenly

Once you have the right backpack for your child, here are some other tips for using their backpack correctly:
1. Always use both straps when carrying a backpack
2. Make sure the shoulder straps are tightened so the backpack is fitted to your child’s back
3. Fasten chest and waist straps if the backpack has them
4. Pack the heaviest items at the center of the bottom of the backpack
5. Use multiple compartments to help distribute the load
6. Do not overload backpack – multiple sources state that a backpack should not weigh more than 5-10% of a child’s body weight