During one of our recent Sittingsafe® ergonomic training sessions an employee told me about her 12-year-old daughter and the backpack that she lugs to and from school everyday. This particular youngster, according to her mother, was tall for her age and slouched when she walked with her backpack.
The mother weighed the backpack and found it weighed 28 pounds!
The following are rules to live by if you or a loved one uses a backpack:
- Only carry what you need to minimize the weight.
- Keep heavier objects on the bottom and equally balanced from side to side.
- When getting contents in or out of the backpack, place it on a desk or table if possible rather than the floor. The higher surface will prevent you from stooping.
- Never twist when putting it on or taking it off.
- When putting it on, lift it to the top of a desk or table first, then place your arms through the straps. This lightens the load on your spine and helps prevent twisting.
- Do not bend at the waist. We call this “hinging”. It is not good for your back. Instead bend your knees and go up and down—think elevator, NOT crane! Bending at the waist continually while lifting may not cause symptoms when you are young, but can contribute to painful and life altering back injuries when you get older.
- We suggest doing a brief back extension stretch after taking off a backpack to relieve tired muscles. Place your hands on your hips, gently push down, pull shoulders backward and raise chest upward while arching back.
Have you found any other good tips for handling heavy, bulky backpacks? We’d love to hear about them.
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