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Back to School Tips | Developing Good Backpack Habits

By Physiotherapist, Kathleen Zinck

Going back to school is a perfect time to review how to wear your backpack. Wearing a backpack improperly can cause strain on back and shoulders, which can ultimately cause long term pain and discomfort. It is never too early for kids to learn how to properly use their back pack and develop good backpack habits. These are some great tips to properly position your backpack positioning each time you put it on.

  • Always wear both straps rather than slinging it over one shoulder. It is easy and stylish to carry your backpack slung over one shoulder. However, doing so puts all of the weight of the backpack on one shoulder. When this happens, you can not walk with good posture. Wearing your backpack on both shoulders evenly distributes the weight and does not strain your shoulders or back.

  • If your backpack has a chest or waist strap, try to utilize them. Especially with heavier loads, chest and waist straps can help take some of the weight off of your shoulders. This also helps to keep shoulder straps in place so that they are not sliding down or off your shoulders causing you to frequently adjust them.

  • It is recommended that a loaded backpack is no more than 10% of your body weight. This means that a 150 lb person should carry no more than 15 lbs in their backpack. At this weight you should even be able to run without causing issues if the backpack is properly positioned.

  • Shoulder straps should be wide and padded so that they do not dig in to your shoulders.

  • Adjust the straps so the backpack rests 2 inches below the shoulder and ideally should end 2 inches above the hips. Wearing a backpack low on your back or below your hips increases the pressure on the shoulders. This position may lead to shoulder and lower back strain.

  • When loading your backpack, place the heaviest items (i.e. books) closest to your back and lighter items in the front. This will help prevent the backpack from pulling away from you which can cause bad posture.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask us through our contact form or via phone at (902) 406-7200.

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Heather Stone