SWAP: A Cheat-Sheet for Backpack Safety

Backpack safety is important for the health and well-being of all ages. Before you head off for kindergarten or college, learn how to take care of your neck and back. This guide will teach you all about SWAP: the method for staying safe by understanding your backpack’s weight position on your body and what to look for when choosing this school year essential.

S: Straps

A backpack is one of the most important pieces of school equipment for kids, teens, and even adults in some cases. It’s also the most problematic. It starts with the straps. Straps should be wide enough to sit on the shoulders to evenly distribute weight. You should also look for a pack that has a strap or buckle feature across the chest. Buckling the backpack close to your chest brings it closer to the body, creating stability and takes pressure off the shoulders.


Rolling backpacks are popular! Check out this video to learn more

W: Weight

A backpack that is too heavy or improperly positioned can lead to pain and injury in the neck, back, shoulders and hips.

In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, overloaded backpacks may be linked to serious spinal injuries in children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children carry no more than 10% of their body weight in school backpacks. Unfortunately, a recent study showed that more than half of middle school students carry backpacks weighing more than 15% of their body weight. This can lead to injury and pain as well as other long-term health problems.

When considering size, keep in mind that the weight of your pack will increase as you add items to it. So if you’re planning on carrying around a lot of gear or supplies, make sure your backpack has enough room for those items. Pockets aid in spreading out the weight of the items you’ll carry.


How to manage carrying a backpack, lunch box, instrument, etc.

A: Adjustable

Straps should be adjustable to maximize comfort and to bring the backpack closer to the body if needed. Adjustable straps also allow you to choose how much of the weight is on your shoulders and how much is on your hips.

P: Put Down

Finally, put down your backpack when you can. Give your back and shoulders a break from the extra weight and stress of carrying a backpack. It is healthy and necessary to take breaks often!

Backpack Safety Demonstration

Backpacks are a must during the school year! You now have the tools needed to avoid injury and choose the best pack for your needs using the SWAP method.

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