Avoid Backpack Back Aches
Backpacks are an incredibly popular way of transporting just about anything a person needs for their day, from travelers to students, backpacks are everywhere. The backpack uses a person’s back muscles, which are some of the strongest in the body, to hoist and carry everything needed for a day. Students almost exclusively use backpacks for transporting their papers, textbooks, and other supplies to, from, and around school on a daily basis. The frequency of their use makes proper technique imperative to a healthy back.
Much like working out or lifting weights improperly can injure muscles and joints, wearing a heavy backpack improperly can cause injuries to joints and muscles in the back, which can cause debilitating neck, shoulder, and back pain, as well as posture problems.
How to Choose a Good Backpack
When choosing a backpack, it is important to pick one of appropriate size for the person carrying it, not only how much the backpack can carry. Looking for a combination of the following features is helpful in finding a good, safe backpack.
Wide, padded shoulder straps
absorbs some of the load and distributes it evenly over the shoulders without creating pressure points
Two shoulder straps
distributes the load evenly over both shoulders, to prevent muscles in one side of the back straining, while the other side is relaxed
prevents pressure points being created in the back by the contents of the backpack, increases overall comfort and safety
removes some load from the shoulders and top of the back, and transfers it lower down the back to help weight distribution
the contents of the backpack aren’t all that matter, choosing a light weight backpack helps reduce overall load put on the back and shoulders
Using proper technique in conjunction with a good backpack can prevent back injuries. Proper technique includes the following:
- Always use both shoulder straps to keep the load centered and evenly distributed over the shoulders and back
- Keep straps cinched snugly on the body to prevent sagging
- Pack only what is needed, nothing extra
Casey McClone, MD
Board Certifications in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. McClone specializes in treating musculoskeletal pain for patients of all ages with ultra-sound guided injections.