Important Message from The Joint Chiropractic regarding COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) - Read More

Backpacks and Back to School: What You Need to Know to Shoulder the Load

By Donna Stark

Backpack Basics for Kids and Adults

Summer is winding down and students of all ages are getting ready for the start of school. They’re shopping for new clothes and school supplies, scheduling doctor appointments for yearly sports physicals, and packing things up to move back to college. To say a lot is going on right now is an understatement, which is why it is no surprise that both students and parents may be overlooking one crucial detail. Back safety.

School Shouldn’t Be a Pain in the Back

While age and age-related health conditions are often blamed for back pain in older adults, the biggest culprit for children, teens, and young adults is their backpack.

Back pain has turned into a serious issue for students in kindergarten through college for several reasons. Either they aren’t choosing the correct type of backpack for their body, they aren’t wearing the backpack as it was designed, or they are loading their backpack with too much weight.

With about 74 million students enrolled in school -- about 25 percent of the U.S. population -- and nearly as many jokes and puns about school being a pain, it’s time to bring some relief back to the classroom.

The Ultimate Guide to Backpack Styles

As fashionable as they may be, backpacks are a lot more than just an accessory. They are a valuable, and often necessary, tool for people on the go. Backpacks can be used for a myriad of reasons that include school, work, fitness, or travel, but if you want maximum comfort and convenience while wearing one, it must be well-designed and used properly. It also needs to be functional. How do you know what type of backpack you should use? Here are some of the most common styles you can find in the global backpack market.

  • Shoulder strap backpack - Shoulder strap backpacks are what many people think of when picturing a backpack. These backpacks, which can be used for any purpose, have two straps that are worn over the shoulders. They also come in a variety of sizes and colors.
  • Mini backpack - It’s a no-brainer that a mini backpack is simply just a smaller-sized version of the standard backpack. Many people use these in place of a purse while shopping, traveling, or attending live events.
  • Wheeled backpack - A wheeled backpack is a backpack with wheels. It comes with all the same features as a standard backpack but has the added convenience of wheels and an adjustable handle. They are perfect for heavier loads.
  • Drawstring backpack - A drawstring backpack is simply a sack with a cord that can be used for straps. It isn’t as structured as a regular backpack, but it is great for carrying things, such as a wallet, water bottle, and light jacket.
  • Laptop backpack - A laptop backpack has a special compartment (usually padded and structured) to store your laptop. It may also include additional pockets for the computer’s accessories.
  • Hydration backpack - Hydration backpacks are designed for physical activity. Their main functions are to hold water and make drinking convenient and efficient while being active. You don’t even have to stop to take a sip of water with these.
  • Hiking backpack - Unlike the standard backpack you may use for school, a hiking backpack has a more supportive frame. Hiking backpacks may also come with a hip belt, extra straps, and a water reservoir to help support you during those long treks.
  • Travel backpack - A travel backpack typically has more interior compartments and outside pockets than other backpacks. It is designed to keep important items easily accessible while also remaining safe and secure.

How to Load Your Backpack Properly

When backpacks aren’t packed correctly, they can become extremely uncomfortable to wear. And when there is too much weight added to them, they can also become very unsafe. To avoid muscle strain, joint dysfunction, and nerve irritation, follow the tips below on how to pack a backpack properly.

  • School or work - Limit extra weight by carrying your heavier items and books in your hands. If that is not possible, place these items at the bottom of the bag, close to your back. Use the interior pockets for smaller items and the exterior netting pouch for your water bottle.
  • Hiking or traveling - Your sleeping bag or sleeping pad should be packed on the bottom of your bag and your lighter items should be tucked in the middle and sides. Keep your most frequently used items accessible by placing them at the top. You can also use interior compression straps to prevent shifting during movement.

The two most important things to remember when packing a backpack are to stay organized and distribute your weight evenly. Doing so will help maintain your center of gravity, reduce the risk of falls, and help prevent strain on your back, neck, and shoulders.

Chiropractic Tips for a Healthy Spine

Backpacks are designed to make life easier, but if you are not using them properly, you could be placing yourself at an increased risk of chronic pain and permanent damage. Here are some simple tips to follow from your local chiropractors to help prevent that from happening.

  • Size - Chiropractors recommend the backpack not be wider than your torso. It also should rest at least two inches above your hips.
  • Straps - Make sure your backpack has wide, padded, and adjustable shoulder straps. Using both shoulder straps, as well as the waist and chest straps, allows the weight to be evenly distributed. Look for straps that are at least two inches wide.
  • Style - Function should always take precedence over style. Avoid one-strap bags of any kind and try to find a backpack that is ergonomically engineered for back support.
  • Weight - Your backpack shouldn’t exceed more than 10 percent of your body weight. If it is too heavy, take the time to edit its contents.
  • Usage - Take frequent breaks to adjust the straps and ensure the weight is balanced if you must wear your backpack for extended periods of time.

If you do find yourself with backpack aches and pain, visit your local chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic. Routine chiropractic care can help by easing muscle tension, relieving strain, restoring proper alignment, and improving posture.

Best Alternatives to Carrying a Backpack

Although you can’t get much better than using a sturdy backpack, there are also some other ways you can carry your things. Here are some of the best backpack alternatives when wearing one isn’t desired or possible.

  • Travel jackets and vests - If you want to be hands-free without leaving anything behind, travel jackets and vests are the way to go! These articles of clothing are loaded with pockets and feature an efficient weight management system so you won’t end the day with a sore back or neck.
  • Briefcases - Briefcases are narrow, hard-sided, box-shaped bags that are typically used for work. The upside to using a briefcase is that it can be quite difficult to overpack. However, you still need to keep an eye on the weight.
  • Tote bags - Carrying a tote bag on one shoulder does put you at an increased risk of pain and discomfort, but if you keep the weight at a minimum and frequently switch the shoulder you carry it on, you should be OK by day’s end.

Say Goodbye to Backpack Pain

Back pain can be incredibly frustrating and seriously painful, and it can impact not only your physical health but your mental health as well. If you or a loved one is dealing with back pain due to improper backpack use, it may be time to take a break, see where changes can be made, and get your spine adjusted at The Joint Chiropractic.

Download your offer today and save!

$29 New Patient Special, Consultation | Exam | Adjustment

Offer valued at $45. Valid for new patients only. See clinic for chiropractor(s)' name and license info. Clinics managed and/or owned by franchisee or Prof. Corps. Restrictions may apply to Medicare eligible patients. Individual results may vary.