When getting ready to go back to school, students and their parents should take the time to choose the right backpack. Choosing the wrong backpack can lead to discomfort and even injury.
A 2002 study at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, found that choosing the right backpack and taking care to distribute the weight evenly can make a big difference in avoiding injuries and being pain-free. Overloaded backpacks are a leading cause of back and neck pain.
Tips for picking the right backpack:
– The size should be proportionate to the wearer’s body size and not larger than what is needed.
– The top of the backpack should be no higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom no lower than the top of the hipbone.
– It should be lightweight and durable.
– The shoulder straps should be at least two inches wide, adjustable and padded. They should not fit too snugly around and under the arms.
– It should have a hip strap or waist belt to help reduce the strain on the back by transferring some of the load to the hips.
– It should have several pockets instead of one large compartment, this helps to distribute the weight evenly and keeps the contents from shifting.
Tips for the backpack wearers:
– Wear both straps and adjust them so that the pack fits snugly – you should be able to slide your hands between the backpack and your back.
– Don’t sling your backpack on one side – its puts excess stress on your neck, shoulder, and back.
– Don’t carry your backpack too low – it will make you lean forward and puts the weight on your upper back.
– Finally, and most importantly, don’t overload your backpack!