As we all prepare for the end of the summer and are looking forward to the upcoming football season, pumpkin spice everything, and getting new school supplies; we need to prepare for the extra load that students will be carrying this fall…a backpack! Whether your backpack is adorned with unicorns, dinosaurs, or you prefer a more neutral tone to compliment every outfit, there are a few guidelines I encourage you to follow when returning to school this fall to prevent future injury!
Keep the weight as light as possible by avoiding overfilling your backpack with unnecessary items. Try to distribute the weight in your backpack as evenly as possible so that all of the weight inside does not fall in the same spot. The rule of thumb here is to keep the weight of your backpack, including its contents, within 10% of your body weight or less. For example, if a child weighs 80 pounds, their backpack with its contents, should not weigh more than 8 pounds.
Keep your straps tight on your shoulders, this will keep the load closer toyour body and decrease the need to change your posture to accommodate the change in your center of gravity. Make sure the straps are tight enough to keep the backpack above your hips, if it goes lower than that after tightening the straps, you may need to get a smaller backpack.
I know, I know…you think you look lame with both straps on and it takes too much time to put that second strap on, especially when you need to get out the door, but your back will thank you for the sacrifice. Using both straps, as a backpack is meant to be, helps to distribute the weight across both shoulders so you don’t have to change your posture by leaning to one side or the other to account for the extra weight on one side. When you don’t use the straps correctly, you may find yourself walking differently, which can lead to more issues in the back or legs.
Now that you have made it to class and home safely, let’s keep it that way once you get there. Check out our previous blogs about sitting posture and optimal desk setup so you are prepared for success this coming school year!
Are you in pain but not sure how to manage it? Call 616-256-8679 to schedule your 15-minute FREE consultation today and learn how physical therapy could help you. For more information please visit any of our Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy locations or check out our website at hjphysicaltherapy.com.