What’s the Right Way to Carry a Backpack

Backpacks! Most school-aged kids use them on a daily basis. The American Occupational Therapy Association suggests best backpack habits to avoid injury or issues from wearing a backpack. First, pack your child’s backpack right to avoid strain and pain, poor posture and weakened muscles.

Place the heaviest items closest to the back in the larger pockets to help with balance and make sure items are secure and won’t slide around.

  • Lighter items toward the front of the backpack
  • Sharp or pointy items away from the back

Make sure your their backpack weighs no more than 10% of their body weight. If your child weighs 50 pounds, their backpack should not weigh more than 5 pounds. Show your child how to put on their backpack by bending at the knees instead of the waist to pick it up. Once the backpack is on, use all straps available (both shoulder straps, chest straps, hip straps) to secure the pack. These help to balance the weight and keep the backpack securely against the back.

Reconsider these guidelines above if you notice any of the following issues:

  • Difficulty putting on or taking off the backpack
  • Complaining of pain from wearing the backpack
  • Tingling or numbness in limbs
  • Red strap marks where backpack is digging into shoulders
  • Change in posture from wearing the backpack

Source: American Occupational Therapy Association (July 2017). Backpack Day Handouts, Artwork and Video. https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Backpack-Safety-Awareness-Day/Handouts.aspx.

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