The backpack’s ascent in popularity has been accompanied by a parallel rise in back and spine problems. If not used properly, backpacks can cause some serious issues. And it’s especially important to recognize that back trouble doesn’t discriminate by age. In order to protect your spine, the literal backbone of your body, backpack users of all ages should be familiar with these safety tips. Utah Accident Clinic has had many clients come through our doors with injured spines and we want to do our best to provide everyone with information on how to best protect it when using a backpack.
Backpack Safety Tips:
Travel as Light as Possible
We’re all guilty of overstuffing our backpacks with books, equipment, and other weighty items. And many of us are also carrying around a bunch of stuff we really don’t need. The optimally situated backpack should not exceed 15% of your total body weight. So, if you weigh 125 pounds, your backpack should not exceed 18 pounds. It might sound a bit overzealous, but you’ve probably got a scale in the bathroom, and it only takes a second to weigh the backpack before heading out. At the same time, carry only what you need. Your spine will thank you if you follow these backpack safety tips.
Proper Adjustment is Key
You wouldn’t walk around in a pair of shoes that don’t fit properly, would you? Carrying an ill-fitting backpack can wreak havoc on your spine, which, by the way, prefers to maintain a fairly vertical and upright position. Over time, a misaligned backpack can cause severe spinal issues. One of the best backpack safety tips is to adjust the straps to fit snug, but not super tight. Likewise, set the straps to equal lengths, so the backpack sits evenly across your frame. And if your backpack includes waistband straps, use them as well for extra support.
Double-Strap Whenever Possible
Backpacks are designed to distribute their weight equally across both shoulders. Single-strapping creates an imbalance that can cause stress-related fatigue issues on your favored side. Another backpack safety tip is to wear both straps. There may be times when using a single-strap is more convenient, but using both straps should be standard operational procedure.
Put it on Wheels
For carrying more weight, you might consider a rolling backpack, which will limit the amount of stress and pressure on your spine over long periods of time. Roller bags are particularly useful for traveling through airports and across great distances of flat terrain. Why carry it when you can simply drag it behind you?
Following these simple safety tips will protect your spine from the weight of daily backpack use, and make your travels, whether short or long, that much more safe and comfortable. If you are already experiencing pain in your back from using your backpack, visit Utah Accident Clinic for a consultation. We are here to help you and want to get you back to a healthy lifestyle!