A Bad Backpack is a Good Recipe for Back Problems
A lot of things contribute to a healthy back – good posture, healthy eating, and regular exercise, to name a few. But one of the most important ways to maintain a healthy spine is to limit the amount of stress placed on the back. This stress can come from many sources, including sports injuries, improper movements, and – one that is often forgotten about – an ill-fitting backpack.
Whether you’re selecting a backpack for yourself or for your child, it’s very important to buy one that is the appropriate size and carries weight evenly. Bad backpacks are some of the most common causes of back pain in students young and old.
At Strong Life Chiropractic in Lithia and Tampa Bay, FL, we see many back-pain patients who could have prevented their spinal ailments by taking better care of their backs. Here are our tips for choosing the right kind of backpack to avoid back problems later in life.
How backpacks affect the spine
One of the biggest concerns regarding backpacks and spine health is the weight of the backpack. Overloading a backpack with too many books and supplies can make it much heavier of a load than the back is safely able to carry multiple times a day. Wearing a backpack that is too heavy may cause you or your child to hunch forward and walk with an abnormal posture, which may disturb the natural curve of the spine and cause pain. Heavy backpacks might also put extra tension on the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back.
Ill-fitting backpacks can also be dangerous, because they tend to place the weight of the pack in the wrong places. This might lead to muscle tension or strain, as well as compensation in the back and hips. Over time, compensation may lead to injury or pain due to overuse or overexertion.
Finally, wearing a backpack improperly, such as throwing it over one shoulder, may cause imbalances or instability in the spine, as well as muscle spasms or strains on the side burdened with the load.
How to choose and wear backpacks safely
Backpacks can be worn safely, but they must fit properly and carry an appropriate amount of weight.
When selecting a backpack, look for one that:
- Is of a lightweight material;
- Has thick, padded shoulder straps;
- Has a hip and/or chest strap for added support;
- Has padding for the back.
When packing a backpack, always pack the largest, heaviest items so that they are held closest to the spine. The proximity to the back will help support these items more easily. Additionally, try to limit the backpack’s weight to approximately 10 percent of the wearer’s body weight.
With the backpack on, make sure the bag fits snugly against the back and tighten the shoulder straps so the backpack is held high. The top of the bag should rest a little below the base of the skull, and the bottom should rest above the waistline. Always walk with your back straight and shoulders pulled back to maintain good posture while wearing a backpack. If you must hunch forward to accommodate the backpack’s weight, it is probably too heavy.
By following these tips, you can help minimize your or your child’s back pain caused by a bad backpack. Although this pain is often temporary, it can worsen and potentially lead to injury if it persists.
For more information about spine health or safe, alternative treatments for back pain, contact Strong Life Chiropractic in Lithia and Tampa Bay, FL. Our expert-led Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) techniques may be able to provide the pain relief you’re looking for.
Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.