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Backpacks and Back Pain

By Janin Hendry

From school children to adults, carrying a backpack is convenient, practical, and necessary for getting supplies to and from work and school. In both cases, the backpack has books, paperwork, homemade lunches, and extra shoes. The extra weight can cause back, neck and shoulder strain in adults as well as children.

Is the Backpack Too Heavy?

Wearing a backpack can be a strain regardless of how heavy the backpack is. The design of the backpack, if it only has one compartment, lets the contents slide around. The moving weight can pull a spine out of its natural alignment, which can cause strain.

The force exerted by a backpack compacts the spine, making it more difficult to walk and move. The weight forces the lower lumbar out of its natural curvature and puts a strain on your neck. Your back changes shape to carry a backpack, which can cause potential long-term as well as short-term injuries.

What Can You Do?  

While you cannot avoid using a backpack to carry school or work supplies, there are things you can do to lessen the load and reduce strain.

Type of backpack - There are multiple types of backpacks you can buy for yourself and your school-aged children. While it is tempting to buy a larger backpack that they can use for years, you should purchase a backpack that fits their back.

A child of 4 does not need to carry a backpack that bangs their legs, causing them to hunch, or pull them backward. A properly fitting backpack hugs the back and comes with straps that snap in front of the body, making it easier for the backpack to move with the back.

Wear backpack correctly - Wearing a backpack on one shoulder is tempting, especially for teenagers traveling between classrooms and expecting to sit down again. Even short-term distortions to your spine can cause pain.

Backpack straps should place the bulk of the weight across the shoulders, not on the lumbar. Wearing a backpack too low can cause shoulder hunching, which produces back, neck, and shoulder pain.

When to Visit Your Chiropractor 

Back, neck and shoulder pain are the first indicators of an overweight backpack. It is easy to ignore in the short-term, but with time, strain becomes worse and the pain will increase. Backpacks can restrict circulation, which can produce tingling through your nerves.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic Clinic in Greenville, S.C. 

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