Whether we’re talking about a middle schooler, college student, or even a teacher, back-to-school time can bring neck and back pain. This has become even more true in recent years, as the academic world has required its community to carry increasingly heavy books and more and more stuff.
The truth is that you don’t have to be going to school to be carrying a backpack, briefcase, messenger bag or handbag that is just too heavy to be healthy for your back.
The backpack has rightfully emerged as a favorite for carrying heavy loads for a simple reason – it takes stress off of the weaker muscles and places it squarely on the core muscles of the abdomen and back, which are made to take it. Backpacks spread the weight across the shoulders, minimizing the risk of a one-sided burden that can lead to shoulder or neck strain, but that doesn’t mean that they eliminate all potential back problems.
You need to know how to wear a backpack correctly and how to load it smartly in order to avoid damage that can lead to chronic pain.
Too Much Weight Plus Incorrect Positioning Adds Up to Pain
Carrying a bag that’s too heavy is bad, but the problem is made even worse when you wear it the wrong way, hung too far down your back. When you do that, you force your entire spine into a backwards arch that can only be overcome by bending forward at the hips. This overcompensation only exacerbates the problem, and leads to a consistent compression of the discs of the spine. Muscles are overworked and this quickly leads to pain.
Another example of incorrect positioning is when the wearer slings the backpack over their shoulder instead of using it in the way that it is designed. The few seconds that you save by carrying it this way – or the added cool factor – is not worth the uneven stress that you’re putting on your back. Plus, doing so increases your risk of falling, which is definitely not a good look.
The real risk that comes from carrying a heavy backpack in an awkward or inappropriate way comes not from a one-time occurrence but the repetitive nature of habit: the more frequently you load up and carry the wrong way, the more your body adapts the poor posture that your actions necessitate, and you end up using poor posture on a regular basis.
To combat this possibility, in addition to correcting the way you wear the bag and how much you put into it, pay attention to your posture, especially when you’re not carrying the bag. Stand up straight, and then work at recreating that position once the bag is on your back.
If you are experiencing back pain and making these simple adjustments don’t help, you need to see our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey. Contact us today to set up an appointment and get started on the road to relief.