Some experts estimate that 80% of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives and the total cost of the condition is estimated to be more than $100 Billion annually. We know a lot of different causes of back when we are adults. But I want to discuss something that we don’t notice. The cause of back pain can start when we are still young. Studies have shown that carrying heavy backpacks through our school years can be the start of back pain. This is why I want to discuss the relationship between backpacks and back pain.
- Change in posture when carrying the backpack
- Struggling when putting on and taking off the backpack
- Tingling or numbness on your arms or legs
- Red marks or strap marks on the shoulders
- Poor posture – carrying a heavy backpack will make you shift your weight forward to counter the weight of the backpack resulting in a posture called forward head posture. A lot of people have this even when they are adults.
- Neck – forward head posture results in extension of the neck to compensate for the rounding of the upper back. This results in neck and upper back pain.
- Shoulders – heavy weight on the shoulders pulls it down and muscles around that area will work hard to keep the shoulders up. This can lead to soreness and pain.
- Lower Back – carrying a heavy backpack will force you to lean forward to counter the weight of the backpack. This will force your back muscles to work harder to maintain an upright posture which can result in spasm and pain.
- Hips – hip pain can also occur as a result of the forward leaning posture when carrying a heavy backpack and the extra load placed on the joints.
- Knees – the change in walking pattern and extra load placed on the joint can cause knee pains.
How To Wear A Backpack Properly
- The size of the backpack should be the length of the torso and should not be 2-4 inches below the waist.
- Backpacks should be worn close to the body with minimal space between the back and the backpack itself. If the backpacks has chest and waist straps, use them to keep the backpacks as close to the back as possible and take some off of the shoulders. Shoulder straps with padding also help.
- Carry backpacks with both arms. Carrying backpacks in one shoulder will make you lean to one side to balance the weight. This will throw off the whole body alignment.
- Distribute the weight of the things in the backpack evenly. Use multiple compartments if possible. Put the heavier things low and towards the back of the backpack so that it is closer to the body.
- Don’t make backpacks too heavy. The ideal weight for a backpack is 10-15% of a child’s weight. Use backpacks made of lightweight materials if possible. If the backpack is too heavy, remove non-essential items in the backpack. Carry only what is needed for the day.
- Use correct form when picking up the backpack. Bend with your legs and use both hands to pick up the backpack.
Proper Backpack Fitting
If you are not sure how to fit your child’s backpack, or if you or your child is having pain while carrying a backpack, start with decreasing the load. If this does not help, Don’t Worry! Give us a call and we can set up a consultation to make sure that your child or you are wearing the backpack properly. And we can design a specialized program that has shown great results at relieving your pain quickly. This program can consist of using different modalities including the revolutionary Laser treatment, manual therapy techniques and exercises. Call Restore Plus today for more information or to schedule an appointment! (800) 905-0513.
Restore Plus Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
33-10 Queens Blvd. Suite 301
Long Island City, NY 11101