Our advice for avoiding back pain when wearing a backpack in National Walking Month

It's National Walking Month, and with Robyn completing her epic 107k challenge last

weekend, we thought it was the perfect time to share Bridget’s advice on wearing your backpack correctly to avoid pain and injuries when you’re out and about enjoying the sunshine:

  • Always use both shoulder straps. If you wear your backpack on one shoulder, even if it is only 10% of your body weight, it can increase curvature of your spine. It can also change the angle of your pelvis, tilting it forward even more. In turn this causes decreased walking deficiency and increased pelvic rotation, causing restricted upper limb movement. This can lead to low back and neck pain.

  • Tighten the straps. Ensure that the backpack is close to your body. The straps should hold the pack two inches above the waist.

  • Chest strap: Use this to distribute weight effectively.

  • Pack light. The backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of your body weight for the reasons mentioned above.

  • Organize the backpack carefully. Pack heavier items closest to the centre of the back to minimize the movement of your centre of gravity. This will minimize stress and strain on muscle groups.

  • Stop often. Only carry what is necessary and stop often to take the pressure off your back.

  • Bend using both knees. When wearing or picking up your backpack (as with anything), bend at the knees and not at the waist.


You can also learn back strengthening exercises to help build up the muscles used to carry a backpack. If you’d like more information, just let give us a call.


Happy walking!


Bridget Daly – Sports Therapist