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Posted on 09-22-2016

Is Your Backpack a Problem? 

Backpacks are a staple for a successful school year. Now that students are back in the classrooms, the common complaint we’ve been hearing in our clinic is “my backpack is giving me problems”. Although backpacks are convenient to have, they can be detrimental to your health, especially to your spine, if they aren’t utilized properly. More than 50% of young students complain of at least one episode of back pain by their teenage years. One of the main causes for this issue is the improper use of backpacks.

kids with backpacks running

Here are some tips from Our Mississauga Chiropractors to make sure you’re carrying it right:

Choose the Proper Backpack 

Choose a lightweight, but durable backpack, usually made of vinyl or canvas. Make sure that the shoulder straps are wide so that the weight is nicely distributed, and make sure the straps and back of the backpack are padded for comfort. Having a backpack with a hip or waist strap will add more support. Check to make sure that the straps are adjustable to customize for each individual. Using the straps will help bring the bag closer to your body and keep your centre of gravity in its proper position. Having a backpack with plenty of pockets is useful as well.      

Packing the Backpack Properly

Once you’ve chosen a proper backpack, make sure that you’re filling it properly. Spend some time to think about your day and pack only what is essential for that day. When filling the backpack, don’t put everything into one pocket. Try to distribute the weight evenly from the front to back and from side to side. The general rule for packing your bag is to only carry a weight that is no more than 10-15% of your body weight. A backpack that is too heavy will not only add direct stress onto your spine, but it shifts your centre of gravity. Your body will start to compensate for the extra weight and over time can worsen your posture.    

Wearing the Backpack

When putting on the backpack, have it sitting on a counter or table so that you can easily put it on without having to lift it from the ground. It is important to use both shoulder straps to distribute the weight evenly. Never use just one strap no matter how cool it looks.  Again, make sure that the backpack is sitting snugly against your body and not hanging too far and low. A rule of thumb is that you should be able to slide a hand between the backpack and the carrier’s back. If there’s too much space, tighten the straps a little more.

Why are Backpacks Important to Your Spine

As much as we’d love to see you succeed academically, our chiropractors want to make sure you’re living healthy each and every day. Using your backpack is an everyday occurrence, and the repetitive strain of improper use can be a huge detriment and stress on your spine, and in turn, your health as well. Improper posture can lead to mood and fatigue issues, as well as difficulty with concentration.

Our Mississauga Chiropractors want to make sure your spine is in perfect health so that you and your brain are well-equipped for the school year. If you have any questions or would like to contact us, give us a call at (905) 821-4951, and book an appointment today.   

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