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5 Tips to Prevent Backpack Injuries

Pained male student wearing backpack

The backpack is a common accessory for sportsman and students alike, and during most of our younger days, we’d carry a backpack full of all the necessities of school life.  From books to pencils and paper they could wind up being a significant amount of weight that we carried around each day. Backpacks are also integral to those who enjoy camping, hiking and even biking for great distances, and many of us still carry some variant of it in our day to day lives.  Unfortunately, backpack users are often unaware of the amount of damage an improperly worn or overly heavy pack can cause. At Premier Health and Wellness Center, Dr. Dempsey sees patients every day who are suffering complications from improper backpack use, leading him to put together this list of 5 ways to avoid injuries from backpacks.

Keep It Light
One of the biggest mistakes that backpack users make is over-filling their backpack and thereby straining their backs and muscles.  This is especially common among lighter children, especially those under 100 pounds. A backpack should never weigh more than 3 pounds for every 20 pounds you weigh (or 15% of their body weight).  You can easily see how textbooks can easily push a child’s backpack over this weight, leading to soreness and back pain that eventually may require treatment. While backpacks are still superior to briefcases, satchels, and purses thanks to their ability to evenly distribute weight, they still require some care when wearing.

Keep It Tight and Secure
Another common mistake made by school-age backpackers from kindergarten to college is not wearing the backpack securely.  When moving from classroom to classroom it may seem easiest to just sling the backpack over one shoulder, but this doesn’t provide the maximum benefit of the pack.  By positioning it on both arms and making sure that the backpack is secure the weight becomes evenly distributed and avoids shifting that can cause trauma to the back.

Minimalism Is Key
It’s tempting to use your backpack as a catch-all that has everything you need in it for your scholastic adventures, but this is a major mistake when you’re considering long-term use.  When you use your backpack for school it’s best to clean it out every day and restock it with the necessities for the following day. When filling the backpack you also want to make sure that the weight is carefully arranged evenly across the pack to ensure you don’t unnecessarily strain yourself.

If you or a child of yours is preparing to go into school this year, or you’re an avid backpack user for other recreational uses, it pays to stop in at the  Premier Health and Wellness Center. Dr. Dempsey can help you learn how to properly care for your back by selecting the right backpack and loading it properly.  If you suspect you’re suffering back pain from improper backpack use, pick up the phone and make a call today!