Backpacks & Back Pain: It Is Avoidable!

With back to school time right around the corner, it’s a good time to bring up one important question: Are you carrying the right backpack for your neck and back? Children going back to school are not the only ones we should be concerned about. Adults carrying heavy computer bags, briefcases, and backpacks also have to make sure their bags have a proper fit and are not doing more harm than good!

One of the BIGGEST concerns with backpacks for children and adults is the mere weight of the bag.  Backpacks with an excess amount of space, to fit more books, will only make the bag heavier and cause one of two things:

  • Your shoulders to lean forward in order to carry the weight which puts more pressure on your back and shoulders.
  • The backpack will fall down on your back causing you to excessively arch your back and alter your normal gait.

Here are two rules you should always follow for the health of your back. Backpacks should not hang lower than the small of your back or a few inches above your belt line.  Backpacks should fit firmly on your back with little sliding motion. Bags that hang too low or slide up and down can create stress in different areas of your back, causing discomfort and poor posture. Furthermore, it is important to find a backpack that offers different pockets and sections in order for the weight to be distributed evenly throughout the bag and across your back. When the weight is even throughout the backpack it will allow for not only easier carrying, but less shifting during movement, allowing for a better and more upright carrying posture.

Ideally, backpacks should never weigh more than 15% of the total weight of the person carrying them. Both shoulder straps should be padded and always be in use at the same time. Following all of these guidelines is not always possible, luckily there are other options for those who must carry heavier bags. Roller book-bags, much like the luggage cases travelers use, will allow children to carry an increased amount of weight and material without the stress on their developing spines and neck.

So, whether your children are heading back to school with their bags or you carry a backpack to work, make sure you are using the proper techniques to avoid back pain and poor posture! The Doctors at The Winchester Institute also recommend bringing your backpack into your next Chiropractic appointment, so your doctor can check your fit.