Back Packs, Rucksacks and Back Pain
Back packs, rucksacks and back pain has recently had a lot of coverage in the press. Firstly we notice that we increasingly carry our belongings, school and work equipment on our backs. However, in doing so we don’t want to effect or damage our backs and alter our posture in the process. How do we improve our chances of avoiding back pain caused by badly fitted, poorly packed and over loaded ruck sacks. Ruck sacks should be ergonomic, well fitted and comfortable.
Tim Hutchful from the British Chiropractic Association has some advice “We recommend a backpack over other styles of bags as it allows the weight of the bag’s contents to be distributed evenly across both shoulders so the spine is not pulled out of line.”
Most hiking and sports rucksacks over the size of 9 litres in capacity are designed with a belt to extend around the hips. However, work bags, day bags and fashion items have less of these design benefits. These are more likely in a lot of cases are what to lead to pain or injury in the long term.
Finding the Correct Fit for a Rucksack
Firstly a correctly fitted backpack with an adjustable hip belt and sternum clasp will distribute the weight evenly to the low back. The belts and buckles transfer the weight of the bag into the legs; your strongest muscles. This avoids bearing the weight on your shoulders and ensures it is distributed between the legs and lower lumbar rather than the weaker points such as the shoulders and arms where aches and pains can occur.
Secondly, it is important that the back pack is not too large or small for your body frame or overloaded and excessively heavy. A bag that is too big will lead to the temptation to fill it to the brim and increase the weight unnecessarily. Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain found that a quarter of British school children who use back packs for school are carrying approximately 20% of their body weight in their bags filled with books and equipment
An over sized, badly packed and over filled ruck sack will naturally cause you to lean forward to compensate for the weight and this is referred to by Tim Hutchful of the BCA as the “snail effect”. Posture becomes altered as the neck naturally pulls forward and pressure is exerted upon the hips and lumber spine. This can cause pain and discomfort in both the neck and lower back.
Finally, check the contents of the bag and only carry daily essentials, don’t let the clutter build up and the weight increase inadvertently
How to Wear the Back Pack Correctly for Comfort
There is a temptation to grab the back pack and sling it over one shoulder thereby completely defeating the point of a bag with two straps. The load of the bag is now weighted on one side of the body, pulling the shoulder down and causing an imbalance and poor posture and causing pressure on the neck and spine. Children and young people probably have the habit of doing this the most and the BCA recommend avoiding this habit particularly
Finally backpacks should be worn on both shoulders, and the straps should be adjusted so that the bag is held close to the back. The contents of the bag should also be distributed evenly. Pack the heavier items at the bottom so that the shoulders aren’t pulled backwards, creating discomfort and more imbalance.
In conclusion, back packs, rucksacks and back pain can be avoided and injuries and discomfort can be treated successfully with a course of chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic medicine believes on preventative care as well as treatment of injuries. It is important to seek advice from professionals whenever necessary. Get in touch with Leslie at Bournemouth Chiropractic to book an appointment to find out how chiropractic can help you