Buyer Alert: Stylish trends may be causing back pain!
Back pain and problems are no longer limited to the elderly. Everywhere you go you see adults and children carrying large purses, backpacks, and/or briefcases. These bags are often overloaded with pounds and pounds of books, electronics, toys, and miscellaneous items like Kleenex and hair ties that mothers always seems to have on hand.
Although larger bags may be stylish and convenient, the added weight can be very harmful if it is not carried properly. According to the American Chiropractic Association, it is estimated that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some point in their life. Chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists are seeing a continued rise in clients complaining about shoulder and neck pain – mainly a result of carrying bags that weigh a ton on one shoulder. A survey by Prevention.com found that women who carry heavy purses / bags reported feeling pain in their:
- Neck: 57%
- Arms: 20%
- Back: 53%
- Shoulder: 84%
Sadly, children are not exempt from this disturbing trend either! Studies have found that around 1/3 of children suffer from back pain, most of which may be related to improper use of their backpacks. Compared with shoulder bags or purses, backpacks are actually the easiest on the upper body muscles because these strong muscles support the weight more evenly than if the weight is carried on one side in heavy shoulder bags or purses.
Even though orthopedists, pediatricians and physical therapists recommend that a child should carry no more than 15% of their body weight in their backpacks, research shows that over half of the children studied carried loads heavier than 15% of their body weight. Younger children, especially girls, are at higher risk for backpack-related back pain since they tend to carry loads that are heavier proportional to their body weight.
Improper use of bags that are too heavy can cause serious long-term back pain and injuries including:
- Tension headaches
- Osteoarthritis or degenerative join disease in some
- Upper and lower back and neck muscle strain
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers
- Muscle spasms
- Increased risk of scoliosis (curvature of the spine) or kyphosis (hunchback)
Protect your back health and avoid back pain:
Telling most women to get rid of their stylish bag is not practical advice for trend conscious people. So, if you just HAVE to have that cute bag, or if your child INSISTS on a certain backpack, here are some ways that you can protect you and your family’s health.
- Lighten the load. Go through your purses, briefcases, and backpacks once a week to remove any unnecessary items that have accumulated over time.
- Switch it up. Don’t carry your purse on the same shoulder all the time. Instead, switch sides every few minutes.
- Hold your phone in your hand, not with your shoulder. Keep your neck straight and maintain proper posture by avoiding holding your phone between your shoulder and your ear.
- Wear the bag properly. If it only has one strap, sling the bag across your body to absorb some of the weight and minimize the swing. Backpacks should always be worn properly on both shoulders to distribute the weight evenly.
- Stretch daily. Weak, tight muscles damage faster than fit, relaxed ones. Stay in shape and follow a daily stretching routine to keep muscles limber.