Your patients have a lot of items to check off their school supply list. Unfortunately, there are a couple of supplies they might pick up that they definitely aren’t budgeting for, like poor posture, neck, back and shoulder pain. Children and adults alike experience these symptoms at an increasing rate around this time of year, and many clinicians are noting that their backpacks may be the culprit.

According to an article posted by the American Chiropractic Association, “young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations, and the use of overweight backpacks is a contributing factor, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).” However, it’s not clear if there is a direct relationship between backpacks and back pain.  

Regardless, Spine-Health.com noted that back pain related to back packs is short term and can be alleviated with a short period of rest or reduced activity per a clinician’s recommendation. Dr. Robert Silverman DC treats his fair share of rounded shoulder posture, headaches and an assortment of musculoskeletal pain due to poor backpack ergonomics. From his experience, he has compiled seven rules to live by when choosing the best backpack. Pass this information along to your patients to send them back to school safely!

backpack safety erganomics

7 Tips for Safe Backpack Use

1. Personalize your fit.

Remember that each body is different, so each backpack fit should be different as well. Follow the specifications below to find a comfortable, ergonomic fit!

2. Follow the rule of two’s.

Ironically, there are three parts to the rule of two’s:

  1. Wear the backpack on two shoulders.
  2. Make sure the straps are at least two inches thick.
  3. The bottom of the backpack should not hit more than two inches below the waist.

3. Revive the shoulder pad trend.

Sort of…! Purchase a backpack with padded straps for the much-needed comfort; your neck and shoulders will thank you.

4. Distribute the weight of the backpack.

Individual compartments on the sides and throughout the body of the backpack will help disperse the weight throughout the bag, making it easier to carry.

5. Weigh In.

Dr. Silverman recommends the backpack be no greater than 10% of your total body weight. This will curb early onset of back, neck and shoulder pain as well as poor posture.

6. Consider night time safety in the backpack design.

Investing in a backpack with reflectors will give you peace of mind when you or your children are walking home at night.

7. Best case scenario? You won’t have to carry your backpack at all.

If possible, invest in a backpack with wheels: easier transport and an incredibly decreased chance of musculoskeletal pain. It’s a win-win!

Hear more about each of these seven tips below from Dr. Robert Silverman himself!

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