Bags come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one major drawback. The more items you put in them, the more weight you will have to carry At the end of the day, this can lead to back and neck pain. In time, these heavy loads can easily become more problematic; leading to chronic back pain.
Knowing how to carry a bag without ruining your back is very important.
Bags have been around for centuries; even cave-men were using a type of primary bag to carry around items. In the modern era, they became more than functional items, as women turned them into fashion statements.
But the main problem about bags is still around: they can lead to intense pain.
We carry notebooks, gym gear, and laptops around; which makes us prone to back injury due to heavy loads. As few people can afford to give up on carrying their laptop, one can only learn how to carry it safer.
Keep reading below to see a few tips from pain management specialists on how to carry a bag without hurting yourself!
What are the Risks?
Kids and teens are often seen carrying large bags to school, which alters their posture and can lead to scoliosis and kyphosis. While their growing bodies are most at risk for developing these conditions, adults can also suffer back injuries from improperly carrying bags.
In most cases, the condition is made worse by carrying a heavy bag in adulthood. However, it can nearly always be traced back to childhood when you struggled to carry a large backpack filled with books.
All these conditions are accompanied by pain, which can become debilitating at times.
For those who are older or elderly, carrying a heavy bag can increase the risk of falling and hurting yourself. According to a study published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics,
“These results indicate that the heavier weight loads increase the activation of muscles that control the ankle joints causing muscle fatigue. Moreover, a decrease in balance ability through muscle fatigue can be a risk factor for falls.”
Calculate How Much You Can Carry
According to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Public Health,
“Weight of the backpack appears to be strongly related to the occurrence of shoulder, neck, back, and extremities complaints in students. “
Doctors recommend carrying at most 15% of your bodyweight.
If you can, you should be limiting the load to 10%.
Anything heavier than this can cause you neck and back pain, and can alter your posture. In time, this can lead to spinal problems and chronic back pain.
Heavy Objects at the Bottom
Low loads are safer to carry, according to scientific studies.
Placing all the heavy items at the bottom of your backpack can ease the pressure on your back, distributing the load better. You can also try to strengthen your core and back muscles, to reduce the strain on your spine.
Kids and teens also benefit from this strategy, as the bag is less likely to lead to posture changes.
Another trick to ease the pain is to make the load as even as possible, to reduce the lateral spinal motion.
Double Strap It
Studies revealed that the neck is the weakest part of the body when you carry a heavy load, so always distribute it evenly on two shoulders by using double strapped bags.
According to a study on the effect of carrying a double strapped bookbag compared to single strap bags published in the scientific journal Ergonomics,
“the daily physical stresses associated with carrying book bags on one shoulder significantly alters the posture and gait of youth.”
As stated in a different study on the same issue which was published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics,
“The symmetry index increased with one-strap carrying (compared with no backpack and two-strap carrying) for the maximum force during the breaking phase (Fy1) when it decreased for the maximum propulsive horizontal force before taking-off (Fy2). Children should be advised to carry their backpack on two shoulders rather than use a one-strap backpack.”
If you can’t give up to your one strap bag, switch it from one shoulder to another from time to time to avoid injuries.
Keep the bag close to the body, as this can reduce the stress put on your spine by the heavy bag.
If you suffer from back pain due to carrying a heavy bag, you can see a pain management specialist or a chiropractor who can advise on what type of bag is right for you, and how to address your back pain.
Furthermore, using the advice listed above can help avoid many issues associated with carrying a heavy bag!