Sep 14, 2016 | Spinal Health

Backpacks provide a convenient, hands-free method for carrying around books, clothes, computers and other items. However, you may experience back pain when you pull one on as you head out the door.

Causes of Backpack-related Back Pain

The heaviness of your bag is a common culprit of back pain, as you might be tempted to stuff as many things as possible into it. The University of Georgia recommends carrying no more than 25 pounds total, with the ideal number matching 10 to 15 percent of your body weight.
Your posture while wearing a book bag also plays a role. If you hunch over while walking around, spinal damage may occur. This problem also causes shoulder and neck discomfort.
The placement of items may cause backpack back pain even if you’re under the weight limit. For example, if you have a 1,000-page hardcover textbook in the outermost pocket and a few pencils and your lunch in the pocket closest to your back, you have an unbalanced book bag that shifts around frequently. Keep the heaviest, largest items closest against your back.

Backpack Safety Tips

Here are a few tips on using your backpack safely so you minimize the risk of back pain:

  • Adjust the straps to position your bookbag in the center of your back. This spreads any weight evenly over your back and shoulders, rather than focusing on a particular area.
  • Stand up straight while wearing your backpack. If you can’t, you may need to purchase a smaller product that works better for your torso length.
  • Consider picking up a backpack with a hip belt. You shift the majority of the work from your back to your hips, which tend to be much stronger for lifting. If this isn’t an option, some companies have products with telescoping handles and wheels.
  • Use both straps unless the bag is designed for one-strap wear.
  • Get the right bag for your intended usage. If you walk around campus all day or go hiking in the mountains, you need a backpack designed for long-term use. Get padded straps and other features designed to reduce strain.

It’s easy to overlook backpack back pain, but you can end up in severe discomfort if you pull on your bag every day. Use these tips so you don’t have to suffer through any more pain.

If you do find yourself aching from prolonged backpack use, call Texas Spine Clinic for relief.

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