Studies actually show that up to a third of high school students have lower back pain that they shouldn’t be getting until they’re adults. Many experts believe the culprits are the large, overstuffed backpacks students use to cart their books around in. While carrying heavy backpacks doesn’t mean you will end up with a serious deformity, there are problems that go along with carrying too heavy backpacks or books.
The main trouble with backpacks and book bags that are too heavy is muscle strain. This is especially true for those who carry backpacks without using both straps, or who use satchels or shoulder bags over one shoulder. As a result, the muscles strain to make up for the uneven weight. The spine bends to the opposite side, placing stress on the back and ribs, leading to back pain and muscle spasms. In addition, the weight also strains the neck and can lead to headaches and neck aches as well.
So how can you keep your back healthy when you have to lug around a ton of books? The following tips will help you alleviate potential back and problems caused from heavy back packs and books:
- Use a backpack. When choosing a backpack, make sure you get one that has two straps, instead of a shoulder bag or messenger bag. Bags with just one strap that are designed to be worn on the shoulder cause more pain and strain than backpacks that have two straps.
- Always use both shoulder straps. Now that you know how important it is to have a backpack with two shoulder straps, make sure you always use both of them instead of slinging just one strap over the shoulder. A heavy backpack on one shoulder causes the same problems as a messenger or shoulder bag.
- Pack your backpack correctly. How you pack your bag also makes an impact on the health of your back. Put the heaviest books and items closer to the back, centering everything in the middle. It’s also important to distribute the weight evenly, and don’t pack your back pack so that there are sharp corners from books or folders poking into your back.
- Choose the right backpack. The type of backpack you purchase should depend on how heavy of a load you’ll be carrying. A regular back pack with two straps is fine for books that aren’t too heavy. But if you plan on hauling around a lot of heavy books or materials, consider getting a backpack that has a hip belt. This helps take the load off the shoulders. In addition, make sure the backpack is well padded in the shoulder and back area to protect you from the books’ hard and sharp edges.
If you notice that your backpack is causing you pain, it might be a good idea to replace it. Lugging your books around is not only annoying sometimes, but it can also be damaging to your back by causing muscle strain and back aches. You can keep your back healthy and still cart your books around by getting a back pack with two straps instead of one that distributes the weight properly and by using both straps.