School is just around the corner! Leaving summer behind is stressful enough without the added distraction and discomfort of back and neck pain from those heavy backpacks being hauled around the school campus. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported in 2001 that backpack-related injuries sent more than 7,000 people to the ER in that year alone. I would hazard a guess that even heavier weights have become the norm now that students are often carrying laptops to class in addition to their reading materials.
Whether you are feeling the “crunch” of upcoming exams or your low back, or if you hope to prevent future back pain in your children, here are some tips:
- Limit the weight of your backpack, so you don’t need to lean forward to compensate. For children, the pack should weigh less than 10% of their body weight. Parents may want to strategise with teachers if mandatory materials are causing undue strain and better planning could decrease necessary weights.
- Consider buying a smaller backpack to avoid “big-purse syndrome” – my own phrase for my ability to fill whatever size purse I have (and convince myself I need it all). A smaller back forces you to be more strategic daily about what you actually need with you.
- Wear the backpack properly, so it never hangs more than 4 inches below the waistline.
- Organize the pack so it rests comfortably against the back, with weight distributed evenly from side to side.
- Use both shoulder straps! We all wanted to look cool, but no one looks cool when they are grimacing from neck and back muscle spasms. Wide, padded straps are even better, so you aren’t constantly twisting and lifting to keep straps from digging into shoulders.
Hopefully these tips will help prevent any future back or neck pain. If you ever need an adjustment to address back or neck pain, or if you want to learn more about spinal decompression, we are here. Now stop procrastinating and get back to studying! – WH
Source: “Backpack Misuse Leads to Chronic Back Pain, Doctors of Chiropractic Say” from the American Chiropractic Association (In PDF: HealthyLiving_Backpackuse)
Absolute Wellness Center offers sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, naturopathic medicine, physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, and massage therapy in Eugene, OR. To learn more about how our services may help you treat or prevent your back and neck pain, give us a call at 541-484-5777.