How to Stop a Backpack Bouncing When Running


Running backpack

Anyone who has tried to run with a backpack on knows how difficult it can be, I regularly run to and from work. As soon as you accelerate beyond a causal walk, your backpack begins to bounce with every step. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can deal with this annoyance.

Ensure the backpack fits correct, avoid excessive loads, maintain your running form and adjusting the straps are the key ways to prevent a backpack from bouncing around while running.

If you want to increase the intensity of your runs by donning a backpack, you should know the best ways to keep your pack still. Let’s begin by exploring a few of the easiest solutions to backpack bouncing. If those do not suffice, read on to learn about some intriguing backpack designs that minimize that jostling sensation. 

Quick Fixes for Backpack Bouncing

Most people who wear a backpack pay very little attention to how they wear it. The first step in stopping backpack bouncing is to become conscious of your backpack wearing habits. After doing so, you might notice that these three factors are making your backpack running experience a nightmare:

  • Poor fit
  • Excessive load
  • Improper backpack running form

In the sections below, we will share a few commonsense solutions to these backpack bouncing causes. 

Tighten Your Backpack Straps

Regardless of your reason for wearing a backpack, you need to know how to wear one properly. By adjusting your straps, you can ensure an ideal fit for your backpack. That fit helps lessen the pain you may feel in your shoulders and spine. It also makes it less likely that your bag will bounce or sway as you move. 

Most of us have carried backpacks with us every day throughout our time in school. But no part of the curriculum endeavored to help us wear a backpack the right way. Here are a few tips that you should use to adjust your load into the best position:

  • Tighten backpack straps until the pack rides high on your back
  • Fasten any available chest or waist straps
  • Use both straps at all times to balance the weight evenly

Don’t wear your backpack without following those three steps. By adhering to that backpack wearing technique, you can get rid of a lot of the bounce in your pack. But good fit is just the first step in dealing with a bouncing backpack.  

Reduce Your Load

The more you have in your backpack, the more noticeable the bouncing effect will be. While this is another simple tip, it is worth mentioning that you should pay close attention to how much you are filling your backpack, especially when running. 

If you’re run commuting then you should consider what items you can leave at your workplace like a washbag, wipes and items of clothing good for more that one day. Check our tips for running to work.

Think about the weight of your backpack in relation to your bodyweight. Ideally, it would help if you did not allow your back to equal a significant percentage of your overall weight. There is no exact percentage for which you should aim. But there are a few guidelines that serve as a good indication of whether your pack is too full.

For instance, some hikers follow a rule that suggests that your pack should not exceed 20% of your total body weight. While hiking and running are not identical activities, that number gives you a general idea of how much is too much when it comes to backpack weight.

You should make your own judgment regarding the weight of your backpack. If you manage to adjust your backpack so that it fits well but you are still feeling a bounce, the heaviness of your pack may be the culprit. 

Focus on Your Gait

Form is important to any type of running. But improving form becomes even more vital when you are carrying extra weight. Before you attempt to run with a backpack, you should practice running with good form without one. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind every time you run:

  • Maintain a neutral alignment along the entirety of your spine
  • Let your foot strike the ground directly below your center of gravity
  • Follow a steady rhythm

When running with a backpack, you may feel the temptation to compensate for the added weight. Resist this urge. While it is ok to lean slightly forward, hunching while wearing a backpack is a recipe for injury. Again, weight is an issue here. If your pack is so heavy that you need to drastically alter your posture, remove some weight.

While our goal is to stop backpack bouncing, some movement is an inevitability. As you run, try to recognize how and when your pack is moving. Then attempt to synchronize that movement with your steady rhythm. That tactic alone can ease a lot of the jarring motion of a bouncing backpack. 

Consider a Different Backpack

If you have followed the advice in the previous section and you are still feeling too much bounce, your backpack itself may be to blame. A typical backpack is not necessarily an optimal choice while running. But you will be happy to find that there are many better options. 

Backpack manufacturers now create backpack designs that lend themselves to running. These designs often allow the pack to move with you as your run. This negates a lot of the stress that a typical backpack would place on your muscles and joints.

One such option is called a floating backpack. These backpacks incorporate an advanced load-suspending pulley system. That system removes a majority of the force that a typical backpack would impart to your body. As you move, the floating backpack bounces in a manner that makes it feel much lighter than it actually is. 

Is a Bouncing Backpack Bad for You?

Running with a backpack brings the potential for injury if you are not careful. Without considering your backpack’s fit, weight, and your running form, you can place excess stress on your body. Over the course of a single run, that stress can lead to pain and injury.

However, if you are careful in how you run with a backpack, you can avoid such adverse outcomes. In fact, with quality preparation, running with a backpack has some exciting benefits.

Benefits of Running with a Backpack

Much of this article deals with the potential negatives of backpack running and ways to circumvent them. But there is a reason why so many people are taking up this practice. Before we conclude, let’s look at some of the reasons that running with a backpack is a good idea

Burn More Calories

Running with a backpack makes your run more strenuous. Naturally, that added effort translates to a more significant calorie burn. This makes for a more efficient workout as you can expend more energy over the same distance you usually run. Many people choose to run with a backpack to help with weight loss.

Increased Muscular Strength

By holding more weight as you run, you are forcing your muscles to work harder. That is especially the case for stabilizing muscles in your abdomen. By forcing your body to carry its weight and the weight of a backpack, you encourage your muscles to become stronger. 

Improved Bone Density

Running alone is a way to improve bone density. The impact of each footfall triggers your skeletal system to become stronger in response. In aggregate, those footfalls contribute to better bone health. When you add weight while running, those bone density benefits only increase.  

Conclusion

If you hope to run with a backpack on, it is crucial that you know how to do so correctly. Without that knowledge, the bouncing of your backpack could lead to injury. But there are ways to adjust your backpack to lessen the effect of backpack bouncing. And if that doesn’t work, you can always search for a new backpack that helps eliminate bounce. 

Mark Norman

I've been running for over 6 years and now try to balance it with life as a dad to two young kids. I'm not super quick, I just try to run consistently, not always easy! I'm lucky enough to have run the London Marathon twice along with countless other half marathons and 10ks. I'm also one of the Run Directors at my local parkrun.

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