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Backpack safety

girl wearing a backpack

You may think it looks cool to sling your backpack onto one shoulder, but how cool will you look slumped over?

If backpacks aren’t used right, they can hurt your back, mess up your posture, and even make your hands tingle. And backpack troubles can be a greater risk for girls. That’s because boys in your grade may be bigger than you, so their bodies suffer less pressure from the same amount of books.

Follow a few rules and your pack will be less of a pain in the neck — and back and shoulders!

  • Make sure your loaded pack doesn’t weigh more than around 15% of what you weigh.
  • Load the heaviest items closer to your back.
  • If necessary, take some books out and carry them in your hands.
  • Get a pack with padded straps.
  • Wear both straps to keep the weight even on both sides.
  • Tighten the straps so the pack is close to your body.
  • Make sure the pack doesn’t hang down more than 4 inches below your waist.

You might want to get help from an adult to check on your pack. And help yourself by clearing out any items you don’t really need to carry.

If wearing or carrying your backpack causes pain, stop using it for several days. If the pain does not get better, see a doctor.


Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 28, 2014