Maybe you’re a college student walking around campus with three textbooks in your backpack, or your son is in the third grade and his backpack looks a little too big compared to the rest of him, or maybe you’re an avid hiker who needs to pack three days worth in one backpack. Regardless of the reason, backpacks are efficient and widely popular. But, are you wearing yours correctly?

Wearing a backpack wrong can lead to more pressure on the neck, shoulders, and back, according to researchers. A child should never carry more than 10-15 percent of their body weight in the backpack. A heavy backpack creates stress on the spine and shoulders and creates a forward head posture.

Take a minute to look at yourself or someone else by putting your backpack on. Make sure shoulders and hips are level. Now, check to see if your ears are centered right above the shoulders. If you notice your head or ears pulling forward, that means that there is too much weight and pressure in the backpack.

So, now that you have checked your appearance with a backpack on, how should you be wearing it?

  • Always wear both shoulder straps rather than slinging your backpack with one strap on one shoulder. Uneven distribution can lead to shoulder pain and bad posture, even if you are switching from one shoulder to another frequently.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so the backpack is high on your back and the shoulder straps are comfortable on your shoulders.
  • Your backpack should not sway from side to side as you walk
  • Make sure your backpack is not sitting low on the back. Wearing a backpack this way increases the pressure on the shoulders. A common instance may be that you have been loosening the straps to make it easier to take the backpack on and off. This low back position may lead to a forward lean, which places pressure on the lower back.

So, take the time to adjust you or your child’s backpack as needed. Your shoulders and back will thank you.

by Arnela Karic