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How to Prevent Backpack Back Pain

By Kate Zanoni, Physical Therapist Assistant

Have you sipped your first pumpkin spice latte yet? It’s just one of the many unofficial signs that fall is here and school is back in session! While you are stuffing your backpack with your various notebooks, binders, ipads and other supplies, it’s important to remember not to overload it. This might not sound like a big deal, but proper back pack ergonomics, or correct posture and body mechanics, can help you prevent short or long term back pain. Yes, even children and teens can get back pain. So how should you carry your book bag to avoid being sidelined from your daily activities due to pain or injury?

Backpack-related pain and injuries are more prevalent than you might think. These bags can cause your body to compensate for the weight with distorted posturing.  If left untreated, a simple thing like carrying a book bag incorrectly can lead to chronic back pain.  Other conditions that stem from improperly wearing a book bag:

  • Poor posture with rounded shoulders, a forward head and a rounded back
  • Neck, shoulder, back, hip, knee, and foot pain

You can see, it can be a domino effect. Wearing a backpack incorrectly can also offset your balance due to extra loading of the spine and its effect on upright posture.

back pain

Incorrect way to carry a backpack

So what’s the solution?  Here are some simple tips to help you avoid any unnecessary pain on top of tough homework, game schedules and other daily activities this year:

  1. Try to limit the bag’s load to less than 10 pounds.
  2. Evenly distribute the weight throughout the backpack using pockets and compartments. This will encourage better posture.
  3. Wear the bag higher up on the back with both straps tightly secured. This decreases the bag’s weight from the hips and closer to the person’s center of gravity.  That will lower the stress on the spine and improve their balance.
  4. Use the cross-chest strap if your backpack has one.

Don’t let pain or injury keep you from what you love. Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300 TODAY to schedule your personalized evaluation. No doctor’s note is necessary to begin your road to recovery with physical therapy!