School means backpacks — be sure to use them safely

If overloaded or worn improperly, backpacks can spell trouble over time. CONTRIBUTED
If overloaded or worn improperly, backpacks can spell trouble over time. CONTRIBUTED

It’s back to school time, and for many students, this means wearing a backpack.

While a backpack is a convenient storage place for books and school supplies, if overloaded or worn improperly carrying them can spell trouble over time.

A study of pre-kindergarten through ninth-grade students found that changes in posture, particularly excessive forward head positioning, are magnified when a backpack weighs more than 15 percent of a student’s bodyweight.

Signs that the child’s backpack may be too heavy include:

  • Arching the back, bending forward, or leaning to one side. This can create spinal misalignment, and the neck, shoulders, and back become more vulnerable to injury.
  • Struggling to put on or take off the backpack, complaints of pain, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs, or red marks on the shoulders. If needed, adjust shoulder straps to allow for freer movement of the arms and greater ease of putting on or taking off the backpack. To avoid loosening straps too much, keep in mind that the backpack should not extend below the low back. Ideally, it should rest evenly in the middle of the back, over the strongest muscles.

Here are a few tips for safely using a backpack:

Pack wisely: Decide what materials are really necessary, and carry only what is needed for that day. At the end of the day, remove items no longer needed. To better organize backpack contents and reduce stress on postural muscles, place the heaviest items closest to the back. Try to keep the weight of the backpack to 10 to 15 percent or less of the person's bodyweight.

Distribute weight evenly: To help ensure better weight distribution, wear both shoulder straps. Wearing both straps rather than just one helps to lessen stress on the spinal column and keep it aligned.

Look for features that enhance safety and comfort. Things to consider include a padded back, and hip and chest belts to transfer some of the weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso.

Backpacks that have multiple compartments allow for better distribution and security of items, and provide easier access to the contents. Those with reflective material enhance visibility for added safety.

A popular favorite that fits the bill is the Beckmann backpack, with the company’s safety and design-conscious bags undergoing strict safety controls and thorough testing.

Backpack features for K-12 school years include straps and back with the padding needed to provide relief and assistance in good posture maintenance.

The built-in flashing LED light and highly reflective piping helps ensure visibility. There is also a reflective built-in rain cover to keep the bag dry in foul weather and protect it from fading from sun rays. For more information, visit

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