Heavy school backpack? Problem solved!

The pain and injury caused by heavy school backpacks cannot be solved by carrying less weight, because the weight is not the problem. The real culprit is the off-axis loading and postural distortion caused by the backpack itself.

There is no need for kids to be bent over in pain carrying backpacks to school. With a well-designed axial-loading school bag, children can carry books and school supplies in comfort without risk of injury. Our BackTpack axial loading carrying system is the perfect school bag for a growing child.

posture comparison in child wearing backpack vs backTpack

Backpack-related injuries are preventable

Over 22,000 children suffered backpack related injuries in 2013, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. The majority of students carry heavy backpacks weighing as much as 25% of their body weight. 60% of children who carry heavy backpacks experience back pain. Potential health issues can be lifelong, including:

  • Chronic Back Pain
  • Chronic Neck Pain
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Falls
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • Constriction of Internal Organs
  • Poor posture

The myth of "backpack safety" - Why ergonomic backpacks fail

Backpacks are off-axis loading systems. Even an empty backpack can distort posture and cause pain.

There is no way to safely carry weight in a backpack, no matter how light the load, because it disrupts our body mechanics by design.

Line Drawing Showing the Line of Force

When posture is distorted, our joint and muscle mechanics become distorted as well. Even light loads applied to disrupted mechanical systems produce damaging forces in the joints and muscles. The greater the distance of the load from the center axis of the body and the greater the postural distortion, the greater the damaging forces on the musculoskeletal system.

Read more about postural distortion with conventional backpacks.

The solution is a carrying system that aligns the load with the vertical axis of the body.

An axial loading system, allows us to use our weight-bearing joints and supporting muscles in good posture. Our muscles and joints are exquisitely designed allow us to safely carry significant loads safely and without pain. With an ergonomic school bag that facilitates good posture, our kids can stand tall, carry their book and supplies with their load, without risk of injury.

Read more about the ergonomics of school bags.

Kids can carry school bags safely without pain – The BackTpack solution

Child Using BackTpack

Students who have pain with a heavy backpack, experience immediate relief carrying the same weight in an axial loading system like the BackTpack. The load feels lighter because the forces on the spine are reduced, and posture is visibly improved.

The BackTpack design is based upon orthopaedic and neuromuscular science. The BackTpack safely provides critically important posture and loading for healthy child growth and development.

Proper loading improves a child’s posture and growth

Load carrying is not the enemy, but a friend.

Growing bones and muscles need to be loaded for healthy bone growth and muscle development. It is only during a child's growth period that bones build permanent alignment and bone density for a lifetime, essential for preventing osteoporosis in later years. (The term “orthopaedic” literally means “straight child”.) The important caveat, is that the bones and muscles must be loaded in good alignment both to avoid injury and for optimal development.

Axial carrying systems, like our BackTpack, ensure ideal postural alignment for healthy, safe and beneficial load carrying.

BackTpack offers many benefits for students

sitting with BackTpack in school chair

Easy access to their books and supplies whether standing or sitting. No more bending and twisting to take off a backpack in order to sit down or get to an item.

girl running with BackTpack Mini

Children report that they can walk faster, move more freely, and even run while wearing the BackTpack.

Cycling with BackTpack

Greater safety on a bicycle than with a conventional backpack because the load is balanced and has a lower center of gravity, improving stability on a bike. Read more about how cylists use the BackTpack.

Boys off to school in comfort with BackTpack

Ability to walk to school without back pain.

Children cycling with BackTpack

Ability to bike to school without back pain.

Children in a car with BackTpack

Parents comment that BackTpacks simplify carpooling. Students can wear a BackTpack in the car rather than having to put it in the trunk, saving time at both ends of the trip.

School backpack legislation

Backpack safety has become an international concern due to the epidemic of poor posture and pain associated with use of common school backpacks.  Three states now have "school backpack legislation": Delaware, Tennessee and California. While well-meaning, these laws and regulations miss the point. These legislative efforts primarily address the maximum amount of weight the child should carry in their backpack, and fail to address the faulty body mechanics caused by backpacks.

The misconception is that the weight of the load is the culprit. The culprit is really the off-axis loading system.

It is critically important that backpack legislation clarify that weight should not be carried off-axis, as occurs with the design of typical school backpacks. Weight must be in alignment with a vertical spine to support healthy growth, development and healthy posture. 

On February 7, 2017 Marilyn Miller von Foerster PT testified at the Hearing for Oregon SB 216 and JR 6, regarding effective solutions to the problem that school backpacks have caused since they first were introduced as school bags in the 1970’s. Backpacks must be replaced with axial-loading systems for school use. 

Marilyn Miller von Foerster PT testified at the Public Hearing on these bills with the Oregon State Senate Committee on Education in February and presented testimony for SJR 6 the Oregon House of Representatives Committee on Education in March of 2017.

Read the entire testimony...

Please see our testimonial video to understand how students not only feel better with this ergonomic school bag, but they feel better about themselves, when they stand tall and are without pain.


"Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing. And our hopes for their future should drive every single decision that we make." -Former First Lady Michelle Obama


Young boy getting onto a school bus with BackTpack"My son was having difficulty managing his backpack, and started complaining of back and shoulder pain after school. We tried the BackTpack and he felt pain-free instantly. He reports that the BackTpack "doesn't hurt" and its design allows him to automatically turn on his posture muscles and stand straighter when he is waiting for the bus and transitioning between classes. He can carry his school binder, a cellphone, lunch and a few books without any difficulty. It's lasted over a year in middle school with no signs of excessive wear and tear. It's been a great investment in both wellness and durability."

-Christina Howard, MPT
Program Coordinator
Physical Therapist Assistant Program
Lane Community College, Eugene, OR

September 2014

 

See More Testimonials

 

Ball State University Professor Recommends BackTpack to ATME Membership

Students Use BackTpackDear ATME(Association of Theatre Movement Educators) membership,

I have come across a product that I have in the past few years strongly recommended to my students and will next year require all of the performance majors to own.

As you all know, dealing with corrective issues in alignment is difficult and getting the students involved in a healthy daily practice that supports the work done in class is a challenge. The back packs they wear filled with heavy crud cause distention of the head and hips as well as a forward shoulder roll, all of which make breathing difficult and any kind of neutral form nearly impossible to achieve.

BackTpacks seem to be a good start to helping the students begin correcting 14 years or more of unhealthy physical habits. The BackTpacks are designed to help maintain an active alignment and promote a healthy daily practice allowing the students to extend the work being done in class.

Jonathan Becker
Assistant Professor of Movement and Acting
Department of Theatre and Dance
Ball State University


"This is the most amazing load carrying system ever invented. I have had one for about one week and all my back and neck problems disappeared within 2 days of using it, and as a student carrying many pounds of books it has been a literal lifesaver for me."  -Barry S.


School Chair Video

In this news clip from FOX 49 TV in Portland, Oregon Marilyn von Foerster teaches correct posture to school children and talks about back health of children and how to prevent back pain later in life.

More Videos...

Student Testimonials

Students share their thoughts about their BackTpacks, and how BackTpack has improved their posture and overall comfort.


Related Articles, Studies, & Research

C. M. Weaver, C. M. Gordon, K. F. Janz, H. J. Kalkwarf, J. M. Lappe, R. Lewis, M. O’Karma, T. C. Wallace, B. S. Zemel, "The National Osteoporosis Foundation’s position statement on peak bone mass development and lifestyle factors: a systematic review and implementation recommendations" , Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 1281–1386.
Abstract: Bone mass is built throughout childhood. This process is especially rapid during adolescence, reaching a peak shortly after peak height. By 4 years following the peak in height, 95 % of adult bone mass has been achieved. This period of rapid bone growth is the crucial "time of both opportunity and vulnerability for optimizing peak bone mass.” The National Osteoporosis Foundation "recommend[s] lifestyle choices that promote maximal bone health from childhood through young to late adolescence and outline[s] a research agenda to address current gaps in knowledge. The best evidence is available for positive effects of calcium intake and physical activity, especially during the late childhood and peripubertal years—a critical period for bone accretion." Download a PDF of the full article.

Kimberly D. DahlHe WangJennifer K. PoppD. Clark Dickin, "Load distribution and postural changes in young adults when wearing a traditional backpack versus the BackTpack" Gait & Posture (March 2016) Volume 45, Pages 90-96. Click her to view the abstract.

Kimberly D. Dahl, Henry Wang, and D. Clark Dickin of Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA : Abstract of Presentation at the  2015 American Society for Biomechanics, "Postural Changes in Young Adults When Wearing a Traditional Backpack Versus the BackTpack”  Click here to view the article.

Frances Kistner, PT, PhD, CEAS; Ira Fiebert, PT, PhD; Kathryn Roach, PT, PhD; James Moore, PT, PhD"Postural Compensations and Subjective Complaints Due to Backpack Loads and Wear Time in Schoolchildren" Pediatr Phys Ther 2013;25:15–24. Click here to view the article.

von Foerster, Marilyn Miller, PT, MA "BACKPACK SAFETY: AN OXYMORON"
As backpack use for school has become widespread, numerous articles and programs have offered instruction and guidelines in "backpack safety". Nevertheless, the incidence of backpack-related pain and injury continues to rise and has reached epidemic proportions. Click here to view the article.

See More Research