Carrying Your Whole Life on Your Back: How Backpacks Affect Spinal Health
Your bag is your life- make sure it isn’t killing you
Messenger bags, gym bags, huge purses, briefcases; a single unit for carrying your personal belongings is a vital component of keeping your life together throughout the day. However, we rarely put any thought into the type of bag we use or how we carry it until it is causing us back pain. When it comes to selecting a pack, functionality should be the primary consideration, not fashion. To prevent problems from developing, take a few seconds to analyze your posture when you are carrying your bag.
- Do you lean forward or slump to one side to support the weight?
- Do you struggle to get your pack on or off
- Does your back pain increaes while carrying your bag?
These simple questions are even more important for our children, who carry a bag back and forth to school every day. The developing spine is susceptible to the added pressure of a heavy backpack. The extra compression of the pack can cause changes in the curvature of a developing spine and lead to pain in the back, neck and shoulder.
Minimizing the backpack toll on your spine
To begin with, the two-strap backpack is always best. It distributes weight evenly across the shoulders and allows the core muscles to share the weight of the bag. A messenger bag or purse slung over one shoulder tends to cause imbalance in the musculature surrounding the spine.
- Take care when selecting your backpack. A few extra dollars go a long way. If possible, choose a pack with padded shoulder straps and hip straps that distribute some of the weight away from your shoulders.
- Backpack posture: make sure that you can stand up straight with your pack. That may mean adjusting your straps or selecting for less weight so that you don’t have to compensate by bending over or leaning to one side.
- Practice picking it up properly- the more weight you lift, the higher the chance for spinal injury. Make sure you always lift from the knees.
- A golden rule is to never carry more than 15% of your body weight in your pack. Be selective!
How we help you offset backpack problems at our office in Houston
At Holmes Chiropractic, we treat many people whose spines are reeling from years of improper pack use. Our all-natural treatment modalities seek to restore spinal balance and correct misalignment of the spinal joints that results from backpack use. From here, we focus on strengthening the core stabilizing muscles to assist your back in carrying the extra weight. If your backpack is an indispensable tool in your everyday life, make sure it isn’t taxing your spine too hard by calling our office in Houston to schedule an appointment today.