It’s hard to believe summer is coming to an end and that Back to School is around the corner. A topic that comes up around this time every year is Backpack Safety. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, over 43 million students carry a backpack that is too heavy or does not fit correctly. Take this backpack quiz to make sure you are using a backpack that is good for your body!

Let’s see what you know about backpack safety:

How heavy should your backpack be (% of body weight)?

A.4%                          B. 8%

C. 15%                       D. 20%

Students should not carry a backpack more than 15% of their body weight. Incorrect wear of backpacks can contribute to many preventable health issues. Packs should not be wider than your child’s torso or hang more than 4 inches below the waist. They should have padded, adjustable shoulder straps that are snug and help distribute the weight across the body.

What is the best material for a backpack?

A. Leather                  B. Canvas

C. Nylon                     D. Fleece

Choose a light but durable fabric, such as canvas. Heavier fabrics will only add to the weight of the backpack.

True/False: It is better to pack your books and heavier items in the front of your bag, so they aren’t pressing against your spine.

False, it is better to pack heavier items, such as books and electronic devices in the back and bottom of the backpack to keep them close to the body. Lighter items can be evenly distributed amongst the side pockets to distribute the weight.

What is the best backpack style?

A. 1-strap backpack         B. Messenger bags

C. Backpack on wheels   D. 2-strap backpack

A standard two-strap backpack is a preferred choice. One strap backpacks and messenger bags cause muscular imbalances in the spine, leading to uneven muscle tone and back pain. Although the backpack on wheels is the best for your child’s posture and low back, many schools have banned these, as they clutter the school hallways and create a tripping hazard.

An overweight backpack can cause:

A. Increased curvature of the spine   B. Increased risk of falls

C. Neck/Shoulder pain                          D. Poor posture

An overweight pack can cause all of the above! By purchasing a backpack that is the right size, encouraging your child to wear the backpack correctly, and not making the backpack too heavy, you can prevent injuries and pain from occurring. 

If you have any questions about backpacks or want an occupational therapist to take a look at yourself or someone else with a backpack to give you tips, please contact us!

Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
Molly Rittberg received her master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to receive her doctorate from Rosalind Franklin University (North Chicago) in 2009. She has since worked in an outpatient orthopedic practice where she worked with patients of all ages, injuries and disabilities. She has a wide variety of experiences including knee, ankle, foot and shoulder injuries, post-operative conditions, spinal rehabilitation and peripheral neuropathies.