First day of school means knowing some backpack facts

Sep 4, 2019

It is inspection day for tens of thousands of students. Parents are checking the first use of new school clothes or taking that picture of the first day of school. They also may want to take a look at how their kids are standing with a heavily-laden backpack strapped behind them.

Amanda Coniglio deals with bad backs as a physical therapist for Catholic Health. She is based out of Kenmore Mercy's AthletiCare in Kenmore. She said too much weight in a backpack that is packed improperly or worn improperly can be a problem.

Coniglio said a key rule is that the loaded backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the student's weight, whether fourth grade or fourth year of college.

Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

"If you have a good amount of weight - 10% or less of your body, that's not too much weight - and it's centered in the middle of your back where the strongest muscles are, you should be able to stand upright and maintain a good posture, while carrying that backpack, as long as it's snug against your body," she said.

She said a snug backpack starts with snug shoulder straps.

"You don't want the bottom of the backpack to go more than a few inches lower than the waistline," Coniglio said. "The reason for that is if it goes lower than the waistline, the weight of the bag is going to be pulled backwards. And to compensate for that, you're going to have to lean forward and you're going to lean at the hips, you're going to lean at the back or you're going to bring the shoulders and the neck forward."

Coniglio said wider straps are also better to spread the weight out a little more. She suggested backpacks with a lot of big and small compartments, particularly a compartment right against the student's back for the laptop or tablet or whatever computer is being carried.

She also says on the back of the pack is not the way to carry a computer. Larger items should be closer to the body.