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Regular Backpack Use and Your Musculoskeletal Health


When it comes to our musculoskeletal health, there are so many different factors that are involved in the well-being or the detriment of our musculoskeletal system. There are some factors that are within our control, and there are some that may be out of our control. In terms of factors that contribute to the detriment of our musculoskeletal system that we cannot prevent, we are able to identify aging as a main cause. When we get older, our bones get weaker and our muscles are not able to support them.

On the other hand, we have certain factors that can lead to deteriorating musculoskeletal health and that are within our control. With the amount of time spent needing to haul anything from books to computers and more around, the need for a certain type of backpack may be necessary. We use our backpacks from a very young age, starting in the early years of elementary school. As we get older and move up to middle school, high school, and eventually college, the amount of weight that we are carrying around in our backpacks only increases. This may be good for our brains in that we are learning more, but it can ultimately mean bad things for our backs and our overall musculoskeletal health.

To avoid problems resulting from carrying a backpack, there are a few guidelines that need to be followed. First, it is important to make sure that the straps are in the right place and are tight enough. If they are too loose, then the backpack can hang on the shoulders and compromise the cervical spine.

If we are talking about children specifically, then backpacks should be no more than five to ten percent of a child’s body weight. If the ratio is too out of line, then this can not only lead to pain, discomfort, and injury for the child, but even stunted development and impingement of growth within the spine itself.

There are some alternatives to the traditional backpack, such as an over the shoulder messenger bag or other types of bags that may be better for musculoskeletal health. Overall, it is important to be cognizant of these things for parents and children alike.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon

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