Men, women, and children of all ages use bags, purses, and backpacks to carry around computers, tablets, paperwork, school books, supplies and other assorted items. Often the increased weight of a bag causes stress to different areas of the body. Add repetitive use to this equation and what you get is back, neck, shoulder and other bodily pains.
There are some simple rules that can be applied to help alleviate the stress that a heavy bag can put on the body. For starters, lighten the load! Do whatever you can to reduce the weight of your bag. I found that SOG brand bags are light and sit better on your shoulders. Children should be encouraged to only carry necessary textbooks home, and leave others in the classroom or locker. Business professionals should do the same by leaving unnecessary paperwork at the office and loading necessary documents into a digital format to be accessed by computer. Heavy purses may be lightened by frequent clean out. Remove all excess trash, receipts and papers. If you carry make up or toiletries reduce these products to travel size. The basic rule of thumb is to carry only what is necessary. Consolidate and minimize whenever possible!
Proper bag type and carrying technique can also be utilized to reduce stress to the body. Backpacks should be proper size for age. Oversized backpacks, even when light, will not fit a smaller child properly, and will therefore disproportionately distribute whatever weight is being carried. Both shoulder straps should be used and tightened so that the backpack does not hang too low or too far away from the body. Holding backpacks, laptop bags with long straps, briefcases and purses on one shoulder should be avoided. One shoulder carriage causes leaning to one side which can lead to muscle spasm and imbalance.
If you are suffering from back or extremity pain examine the load you carry, literally! Chiropractic care can help balance musculature by aligning the spine. Corrective adjustments restore function and remove pain associated with the stress and strain of carrying around “excess baggage”. Applying small changes every day and maintaining a healthy spine will take you a long way down the path to wellness.
Kelly J. Donaldson DC, MS