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Back to School Tips: Backpack Safety

August 7, 2019

Follow these tips to prevent back and neck pain from backpacks. 

1. Get the right kind of backpack.

  • Use a pack with two padded shoulder straps- the wider the straps, the better.

  • Avoid packs that go over one shoulder or across your chest because they do not allow you to center the weight evenly over your spine.

  • Use a pack with multiple compartments so weight can be distributed more evenly. 

2. Use both shoulder straps.

  • Wearing both shoulder straps allows you to center the weight of your backpack evenly over your spine, and can help prevent neck and back pain. 

3. Practice proper posture.

  • The backpack should allow you to stand up straight without hunching or rounding the shoulders & spine. If you can’t do this, the backpack may be too heavy. 

4. Make frequent locker stops.

  • Drop off heavy items to prevent prolonged weight-bearing and pain. 

5. Don’t overload. 

  • Doctors and physical therapists suggest that kids and teens carry no more than 15% of their body weight in a backpack. 

6. Pick it up properly. 

  • Bend at the knees while keeping the shoulders and back straight. Though it might seem unnatural at first, keep repeating until it feels natural and becomes a habit. 

7. Avoid “Heavy Fridays.”

  • The long-awaited on Friday! However, this also means that all of the homework and books throughout the week have accumulated resulting in a mountain of weight in your backpack. Plan to take things home throughout the week. 

8. Promote regular exercise.

  • Frequent exercise can strengthen the core, back, and shoulder muscles, making you less susceptible to pain and soreness. Always consult a doctor before starting any exercise plan.


A physical therapist can help improve posture problems, correct muscle imbalances, and treat pain that can result from improper backpack use. Physical therapists can also design individualized fitness programs to help you get strong and stay strong. 

3 Tips for Backpack Safety. 2018, August 29. Retrieved from https://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/detail/backpack-safety


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