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Does Wearing A Backpack Make You Shorter?

May 14, 2019

Does Wearing A Backpack Make You Shorter?-Leafy Souls Vegan Blog Post

Backpacks are popular not onlyamong travelers but also the modern day man or woman who needs to bring their laptop, gym clothes and any other necessities to work.  Vintage backpacks as well as modern, theft proof and digital-friendly backpacks are growing in demand, but how do these bags affect our bodies?

Carrying a rucksack can seem pretty normal, but the more research we do into what happens to children and adults from carrying backpacks all day is starting to concern the public. Who wouldn’t prefer not carrying a bag at all?

A big discussion now is about height. Does carrying a backpack make you shorter? The answer is yes,it does cause compression and compression fractures in the spine if you continuously carry a backpack or anything on your back - such the case with say High school, college, and the military.

Our bags are loaded with all sorts of junk that make them heavy pains in the neck (and back). With the back to school season upon us, kids aren’t the only ones having to haul huge backpacks around. Here’s how to carry a heavy bag (from messenger bags to totes to double-strappers) without needing a trip to the physical therapist (or worse).

Mic.com takes us through the ins and outs of carrying a backpack and what you can do to prevent shortness or any other ailments that come with carrying a bag for too long.

Research Done

One 2001 study estimated 40 million American children carried backpacks to school. Smaller bags are just as ubiquitous for young professionals who might need to carry essentials to work like a laptop (guilty), gym clothes (guilty), notebooks (guilty), and more. That extra weight can mess with posture and cause intense pain — especially when taken for long hauls.

If we can’t avoid the heavy stuff, what’s the best way to carry our poor, overstuffed bags with ease?


Prevention Tips

The bad news is that thebest way to carry a heavy bag is tonot carry a heavy bag. Lighter loads put less stress on the carrier and minimize all sorts of problems like changes in posture to the craniovertebral angle (neck) and spinal lordosis angle (small of the back) . And it’s not just kids: Adults are just as susceptible to back problems (including scoliosis and kyphosis) from carrying heavy loads, with many of those problems stemming from back injuries suffered at an earlier age  .

Even though young ‘uns are more susceptible to bag-induced pain, therearesome simple tips to carry a heavy load with (relative) ease:

Only carry 15 percent of bodyweight

When carrying a heavy bag, try to keep the load capped at 15 percent of the carrier’s total bodyweight, with a recommended limit of 10 percent  . So, for a person weighing 145 pounds, aim for a bag weighing around 21 pounds, at most. Anything heavier significantly alters posture and can lead to longer term spinal problems.

Place heavier objects on the bottom

Try keeping most of the load low in the bag. One study found that low load placement caused fewer changes in posture and spinal curvature. It also made carrying the bag (relatively) easier for middle-school aged children . Taking breaks (where possible) will also reduce strain. If heavy loads are unavoidable, aim to strengthen core and back muscles to help shoulder the load.This will help keep the spine from twisting and promote better posture.

Use two straps

One study found that the neck, not the back, was the weak point for carrying loads. To help, try using a bag that has two straps instead of one to help correct posture and more evenly distribute weight . The same study found that women were more prone to pain as were people who spent a large amount of time sitting. If one-strapping is the only option, try to periodically swap sides.

Even everything out.

When packing a bag, try to distribute the weight evenly to avoid postural stress. One study found that an evenly weighted bag decreased lateral spinal motion when ascending and descending chairs . Asymmetrical bags (for example, totes and messenger bags) should follow the same principles but weigh no more than 10 percent of the carrier’s weight to reduce injury.

Keep it all close to the body.

Weight is just one of two factors that can lead to injury. “Postural sway” is the amount of torque and tension placed on the spine by a heavy load. Carrying a bag closer to the body will reduce the amount of sway and stress placed on the spinal muscles . For concerned bag owners, a physical therapist can help find bag with ergonomics best suited to your body type.

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