Backpacks and Your Health

Helpful tips on how to carry a backpack

Since I have a family practice I have an opportunity to observe a variety of trends which develop in our young folks. What I have been noticing for the past few years is that most every kid in school carries a backpack for their books and stuff. Whether its lower grades or college folk I can say that all backpacks are consistently too heavy and are being worn improperly. So here are some helpful tips on how to carry a backpack.

1. A backpack should not weigh more than 20 percent of one’s weight. For example, if you weigh 70lbs. the backpack should not weigh more than 14 lbs.

2. Use both straps on a backpack. Though it may be “cool” to sling it over one shoulder and carry it low, this causes stress on back and shoulder muscles because the weight of the pack is all on one side. The backpack should sit high on your back with both straps snug but not tight.

3. Lift the backpack with both hands. Bend the knees and lift with the legs, not the back. Trying to sling a heavy backpack over the shoulder with one arm can cause stress on the spine. When this move is repeated day after day continuing stress can result in fatigue and other health problems.

4. Find the right backpack for your height and weight. Try it out first before buying. Material should be strong but not heavy.

5. When packing your backpack, don’t just throw all the books and other things into it. Only carry what is absolutely “essential”. Pack everything carefully so that the side that rests against your back is flat and not “lumpy.” The edge of a hardcover textbook pushing against your spine, besides being uncomfortable can cause problems.

6. Your backpack is right for you if you are comfortable with it on your back, can walk with your shoulders back (not bent forward) without feeling pressure on the neck and the need to take a break from the “burden” on your back.

About the Author
Jeff Ptak, D.C., and Ptak Chiropractic Life Center are committed to serving the true health needs of as many people as are within reach. Dr. Ptak’s practice is located in Santa Monica, CA.