Is Your Bag Giving You Pain?
Do you experience neck, shoulder or back pain? Maybe your bag is the culprit! This blog post will give you some tips on choosing a comfortable backpack. It will also give you some ideas on how you can adjust your current backpack to prevent pain.
Problems that Can Arise from Carrying a Bag Incorrectly:
The straps may be putting too much pressure over your shoulders, which can result in issues such as bursitis and irritation of the tendons around your shoulder. They can also compress nerves in your neck and shoulder, this can give you pins and needles in your arm or hand
A heavy bag can promote poor posture, which may lead to discomfort and pain
If you carry a heavy backpack or only use one strap, it can change the way that you walk. This can lead to tight muscles and even low back pain
What to Look for When Purchasing a Backpack
Match the Dimensions of the Bag to your Body:
The height of the bag shouldn’t be larger than the distance between your shoulders and waistline. The backpack shouldn’t be wider than your chest width.
Chest and Waist Belts:
Look for backpacks with chest and waist belts. These help to evenly distribute the weight of the bag by transferring some of the weight from your shoulders and back to your pelvis and trunk.
You want to choose a backpack with straps that can be adjusted. This allows you to customise the length to your own body.
Backpacks with separate compartments not only help to organise everything better, they also help to evenly distribute the weight.
Padded Back and Straps:
Padded straps are more comfortable and reduce the pressure on your shoulders. Backpacks with padding on the back prevent direct trauma to your back.
Wide Straps are Better Than Thin Straps:
Wider straps are more comfortable and evenly disperse the weight over your shoulders.
Ways to Adjust Your Current Backpack to Make it more Comfortable
Lighten Your Load:
A lot of us are overpacking our bags and carrying unnecessary items. It’s recommended that backpacks shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of your body weight (Voll and Klimt, 1977). So, if you weigh 60kg, you shouldn’t be lugging a bag that’s heavier than 6kg. Pop your bags on the scales to see if you’ve been overpacking!
Evenly Distribute the Load:
Wear your backpack on both shoulders. This evenly distributes the weight to stop muscle imbalances, and prevents excess strain being placed on one side of our body. When packing your backpack, place the heavier items closer to your body, as this reduces the strain on your back.
Adjust Your Straps Accordingly:
Adjust the straps so that they fit snugly over your shoulders. If your straps are too loose, your bag will tend to swing around as you walk, which can put extra strain on your back. If they’re too tight, they can put too much pressure on your shoulders.
If you have any aches or pains that you suspect are caused by carrying an uncomfortable bag, make an appointment with one of our Osteopaths. They will have a chat with you about your pain and will do an assessment to find the most likely cause. Bring your bag to your appointment and they can give you more advice about how to make it more comfortable.
Voll H and Klimt F. (1977). Strain in children caused by schoolbags. Offentliche Gesundheitswesen. 39(7), 369-378