When we think about people who carry a backpack, we imagine students bringing their books from home to school, or perhaps members of the military with their heavy rucksacks, however, during the past few years others have also been affected. Both businessmen as well as ladies with heavy purses – in addition to students and soldiers — have suffered increased problems in their necks and backs from carrying backpacks and heavy purses.
What Does the Research Show?
A recent study in the journal Surgical Technology International revealed that a backpack can place pressures on the spine an amazing seven to 11 times the weight of the backpack itself. The reason for this is that when we carry a backpack, we don’t stand up straight. In order to compensate for the load imposed by the backpack, we lean forward to counterbalance the weight. And heavier loads cause us to lean forward even more.
What is a Person to do?
There are three things we all can do to minimize potential damage to our spines from carrying backpacks:
1. Wear both backpack straps. Wearing only one strap ensures the weight is exerted on just one side of the body and places an uneven stress on the spine.
2. Minimize the weight of the backpack or purse. Take a close look at what you’re carrying around with you every day and ask yourself how likely it is that you will actually need it.
3. After you’ve lightened the load you’re carrying, you’ll be less bent over, because you won’t have to counterbalance the weight of a heavy pack. Pay attention to your posture. Grandma was right: stand up straight.
Yours for better health,
Jon Mills, DC