The Proper Way to Wear a Backpack

Have you ever picked up your child’s backpack and thought to yourself, “That cannot be good for her posture or back muscles!” or “How does she lift this?”  Carrying a heavy backpack can put strain on your child’s back and shoulder muscles, which can lead to bad posture and muscle aches.  A child carries her backpack for a significant amount of time during the school year, and wearing it inappropriately can impact her posture and overall health.  Read on for tips for properly wearing a backpack.

Tips for properly wearing a backpack:

  • A loaded backpack should NEVER weigh more than 10% of your child’s total body weight (AOTA, 2013).  For example, if your child weighs 60 pounds, her backpack should only weigh 6 pounds.
  • Make sure your child positions items in the backpack with heaviest items closest to the body and lightest items toward the outside of the pack.
  • Discuss organizational strategies for backpacks with your child; make sure ONLY necessary school items are in the backpack.
  • Your child’s backpack should have padded shoulder straps to prevent strain or impingement placed on your child’s shoulder muscles or nerves.
  • Make sure the backpack rests close to the child’s body and does not hang lower than her lower back.
  • If a waist belt is provided on the backpack, make sure your child wears it to help distribute the weight of the backpack more evenly on both sides of the body.
  • Make sure your child’s backpack has the ergonomically necessary pieces before looking for the backpack with more style.

Feel free to refer to www.AOTA.org for more information regarding proper backpack guidelines.  If you have questions or concerns about your child’s backpack wear, feel free to contact us for more information.  Children wear their backpacks a significant amount of time, making this an important area of review!

*Co-written by Kelley Balmer

References:

Information above was obtained from the American Occupational Therapy Association handouts for Backpack Awareness.  American Occupational Therapy Association. Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students.     Retrieved August 27, 2013 from http://www.aota.org