The Joint Ventures' Blog

Helpful Hints For Choosing The Ideal Backpack

Thursday, October 03, 2013

To prevent back pain in children and adults, it is crucial to choose the best backpack possible. Dr. Danielle Cooley, an osteopathic family physician and hands-on pain care specialist from the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, has advice on picking the best backpack and using it properly to avoid pain or injuries.  Things to look for:

    -Wide, padded, and adjustable shoulder straps.  Narrow straps dig into shoulders and can cause pain, so choose backpacks with wide, padded straps.  “The straps should be also adjustable so that you are able to make the backpack rest on the strongest part of the back,” Dr. Cooley said.

    -Two straps.  A bag with only one strap can cause alignment problems in the spine, but just having the two straps is not always enough.  “Two straps are only effective if both straps are used,” Dr. Cooley said.  This allows the weight of the backpack to be distributed evenly across the back and decreases the risk of causing spine dysfunction.

    -Padded back.  The padded part of the backpack that touches the back should provide protection from any oddly shaped objects inside.

    -Lightweight with a lot of compartments.  “Backpacks that are heavy when nothing is in them do nothing but add unnecessary weight to the back.”  Multiple compartments can help distribute weight more evenly.  

The article goes on to give some helpful suggestions to parents that may help their children:

-Use a locker and only carry the books needed for one class at a time.

-Try to have your child perform as much work as he can during the week so he doesn’t have to carry all of his books home for the weekend.

-Communicate with children and ask if they are having pain carrying their backpacks.

-If a child continues to complain of pain, parents may want to have him try a rolling bag on wheels that he can push or pull to reduce stress on the spine. 

The American Physical Therapy Association has some other hints:

-Ask the teacher to keep an extra text book in the classroom so your child doesn’t have to carry his back and forth.

-Purchase a second text book so your child can have one at school and one at home.


The Physical Therapists at Joint Ventures are trained in body mechanics and postural education, so they are a great resource to use if you have any questions or concerns.  Or, please contact me at for more information.

Based on an article written in Medical News Today and information supported by the APTA
References-APA UMDNJ (2011, September 3). Http://

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