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Backpacks Are a Pain in the Neck!

It’s back to school time! Restless kids are often eager to see their friends again, and stay-at-home parents are looking forward to a return to normalcy in the house. Back-to-school shopping is a fun and logical time to buy new clothes and school supplies, including new backpacks.


While fashion is often a strong deciding factor for your child, it’s important to choose the right type of backpack for your child’s spinal health.


Many parents are shocked to find out that backpacks can cause serious and long-term damage to their child’s spine. Dr. Stark has outlined some of the dangers that backpacks can present and how to choose the right one for you and your child.


How can a backpack cause spinal damage?


  • When a backpack is too heavy if can cause the wearer to lean forward to offset the backward pull of the weight. But, this forward lean actually cause neck, shoulder, and back pain.

  • Wearing your backpack with only one strap puts uneven pressure on one side of your body. This causes lower and upper back pain as well as shoulder and neck strain.

  • Very heavy backpacks can cause imbalance and falls, especially on stairs

  • Tight, narrow straps can dig into your shoulders and cause numbness, tingling, and weakness in your arms and hands


What are some signs that a backpack might be causing back problems?


  • If it’s hard to get your backpack on or off, this can be a big indicator that the backpack may be too heavy and causing spinal injury.

  • If you have to lean forward to walk comfortably with your backpack on, it’s probably too heavy to be worn safely.

  • Always listen to your body! If your back, shoulders, or neck hurt, especially while or shortly after carrying your backpack, the bag may be causing spinal damage.


What should I consider when choosing a backpack?


  • Backpacks are a better choice than messenger bags or shoulder bags. Having two straps more evenly distributes weight across both shoulders. It’s important to keep even pressure on both sides of your body and avoid putting too much weight on only one side.

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded straps. Try to find a backpack that also has waist straps as these will help more widely spread the weight across your body and reduce the amount of weight pressing directly on your shoulders.

  • Don’t carry more than 10-20% of your body weight in your backpack. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, your backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 15-30lbs maximum.

  • Store your heaviest items such as textbooks and laptops closest to your back. This prevents the weight from falling outwards which can put extra strain on the lower back.


Chiropractic care for students


For many students of all ages, carrying a backpack is a necessary evil. Do the best you can to choose a backpack that is comfortable with even weight distribution. If the weight of the backpack continues to cause discomfort or pain, work with a chiropractor to help keep your spine in balance.


Dr. Stark offers chiropractic adjustments to the neck and back, as well as adjustments of the extremities. Stark Chiropractic and Sports treats a broad range of routine and sports-related injuries through manual adjustments, kinesiology tape, dry needling, cupping, Graston technique, and more.


Learn more about Dr. Stark here, then book your first consultation and adjustment via our simple online portal.

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