Are you sending your children off to school with a brand new backpack slung over one shoulder? If you are like most parents, a new backpack was on your child’s back to school shopping list along with pencils, erasers, an assortment of colourful binders and a geometry set. The Canadian Physiotherapy Association has outlined some helpful pointers to reduce the strain sometimes associated with using a backpack.

5 things to look for in a backpack

Padded back: reduces pressure from the contents digging into the back.

Padded, contoured, shoulder and chest straps: to reduce pressure and balance the weight, there should be thickly padded (2 inches wide), adjustable shoulder straps and an extra hip strap. Shoulder straps should adjusted so the bottom of the pack is 2 inches above the waist.

Waist belt or hip strap: to distribute some of the weight to the pelvis. The waist belt distributes the weight of the pack down through the legs, which are more used to carrying weight.

Compression straps: on the sides and bottom of the pack to help compress and stabilize the articles in the backpack.

Reflective material: for visibility to drivers.

3 things to consider when wearing a backpack
  1. Use of both shoulder straps to help distribute the weight of the pack more evenly and to promote a more normal posture.
  2. The weight of the pack and contents should never weigh more than 15% of your child’s body weight.
  3. The backpack should be fit for your child, not the child to the backpack.
Now how about you?

Now that you have some ideas on what to look for in properly fitting your child’s backpack, what about your heavy, busting at the seems attache case or purse that you carry to work everyday? If you find carrying these heavy and burdensome, you may want to consider lightening the load; ensure that there is a thickly padded shoulder strap; use a properly fitted backpack yourself or a mobile office case, which has wheels and a telescopic handle.

In conclusion, pack it light and wear it right.

If you have any questions about fitting a pack, or wearing a backpack has resulted in ongoing pain, book and appointment with one of our team physiotherapists at North 49 by clicking HERE, or by phoning 306-343-7776.