Five Things You Should Be Doing While Wearing a Backpack

Whether you wear a backpack for school, work, or recreation, it’s important to pay attention to how you wear it. Before grabbing your bag and slinging it over one shoulder as you head out the door, take note of these five pointers that will help you avoid back and neck pain. It’s never too early or too late to develop healthy backpack habits!

Wear both shoulder straps
While it may take an extra moment, but wearing both shoulder straps is a simple habit that can save you numerous problems in the future. It may seem more natural or more stylish to sling your backpack over one shoulder, but this position places too much pressure on that shoulder. Also, this prevents you from using good posture. The result is likely to be the neck, shoulder, or back pain or even long-term problems with your hips. Take the time to use both shoulder straps.

Adjust the straps for a good fit
Be sure to adjust the straps properly to ensure the backpack fits well. Adults and children alike should be careful to adjust their backpacks for a proper fit. The backpack should sit high on your back, riding at least an inch above your hips. The backpack should not sway from side to side when you walk. Ideally, the backpack should not be any wider than your torso. When on your back, the backpack should sit about two inches below your shoulders. You can sometimes find backpacks designed specifically for women or children for a custom fit.

Use the waist or chest strap
If your backpack has a chest or waist strap, use it. These extra straps help distribute the weight to your hips, which relieves shoulder pressure and keep the pack from swaying. With the appropriate straps fastened securely and the backpack adjusted correctly, you should even be able to jog without it swinging!

Pack your backpack light
Your fully-loaded backpack should not weigh more than 10% of your body weight, and that includes the weight of your water bottle. If you weigh 150 pounds, your bag should weigh 15 pounds or less. At this weight, even jogging or running should not be a problem. If you must take your pack on an overnight trip or a multi-day hike, keep the weight to no more than 20 percent of your body weight. Use hiking boots and trekking poles to add stability. In the weeks leading up to your trip, gradually increase the weight of your backpack to get your body used to the extra load.

Readjust as needed
Periodically check the fit of your backpack to make sure it remains optimal. If you change into clothing that’s thinner or thicker, for example, readjust the straps of your backpack to ensure they aren’t too loose or too tight. You should be able to achieve a good fit whether you are wearing a t-shirt or a winter coat.
Follow these tips anytime you use a backpack to avoid potential neck and back problems and keep yourself as healthy as possible.

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