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Backpack & Other Bag Misuse

Backpack & Other Bag Misuse Can Cause Chronic Back Pain

Large purses are in style and backpacks are so convenient. They both hold everything you need, which is very good for people on the go. Although convenient, improper use of these bags can lead to problems for your back. Carrying heavy purses and backpacks leads to misalignments of the neck and mid back and causes pain and stiffness. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that backpack-related injuries sent more than 7,000 people to the emergency room in 2000 alone. (

A good practice is that any purse, tote bag or backpack should not be heavier than 5% of your body weight. This means that a 100-pound person should not carry a purse or backpack that weight more than 5 pounds. Most people fill their purse and backpack to capacity and they are on their way. Many people carry computer cases that exceed this weight by the computer alone, which weighs 5-8 pounds.

Put your backpack or purse on your shoulder. Is one shoulder higher than the other to compensate for the weight of the bag? Imagine carrying it for several hours and the potential injury becomes a reality.

A disturbing new trend is back pain in children. Backpacks are the cause of a majority of these injuries. When we consider the 5% rule, we can see why children are injuring their backs. For example, a 70-pound child should not carry a backpack that weighs more than 3.5 pounds. The backpack alone weighs close to 2 pounds, not to mention the 10 pounds of books and supplies that is in the backpack. Many children opt to wear their backpack on one shoulder, which increases the risk of injury. The longer a child wears an overweight backpack, the more damage that is done to the spine.

Tips on reducing back pain from large purses and backpacks

Make sure that the load you are carrying does not exceed more than 10% of your total body weight.

The bag or backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. Instead of one large purse, consider a smaller purse and an additional tote bag for the extras.

Utilize the small compartments in a backpack. This distributes the weight more evenly and reduces the risk of injury.

Chiropractic Care Can Help...

If you or your children are experiencing any pain or discomfort resulting from a heavy backpack or purse, call us. Chiropractors treat many children along with adults. A chiropractor can easily diagnose the source of the problem and start you on a treatment plan to treat get you back to health.

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