Does Wearing a Backpack Make You Shorter

Wearing a Backpack Make You Shorter

Backpacks are popular among travelers and school children alike. Still, modern-day men and women also need to bring their laptops, 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 you when you take them around every day?

Carrying a heavy backpack can seem pretty reasonable to you. Still, the more research we do into what happens to children and adults from carrying backpacks all day, the more it is starting to concern the public.

For years now, retailers have been marketing wheelie bags that look like luggage for students whose parents don't want them wearing a rucksack full of heavy books.

Wouldn't you prefer not carrying around a backpack at all? A big discussion now is about height. Does carrying a backpack make you shorter? The answer is yes.

A backpack may cause spinal cord compression and significant back pain if you continuously wear backpacks or any heavier weight on your shoulders.

This is primarily true for most school children and members of the military. Yes, it can make you shorter. A typical backpack is loaded with all sorts of junk that can cause back pain and severe health problems in the neck, shoulders, and back.

If you think about it, I'm sure you may think of things in your bag that you don't really need. Here'sHere's how you can tote a heavy backpack without needing a trip to the physical therapist (or worse).


One 2001 study estimated 40 million American children carried backpacks to school. Adults wearing backpacks is a common sight, particularly on public transportation.

A heavy backpack is just as ubiquitous for young professionals who might need to carry essentials to work, including items like a laptop (guilty), gym clothes (guilty), notebooks (guilty), and more.

That extra weight can mess with posture and cause intense back pain — especially when taken for long hauls. If you simply can't do without all of this weighty stuff in your backpack, what's the best way to carry your poor, overstuffed bags while minimizing strain on your muscles?

How can you get your books from place to place without becoming short? We've been able to get some tips for people on how to carry a heavy backpack without spine injury and back pain.

Read on for an answer or two.

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So, there's some bad news. The best way for you to carry a weighty backpack is simply not to carry a weighty backpack.

Obviously, a lighter load equals less strain on the wearer's spine than a heavy backpack. We all could use to wear less stuff on our backs. Think about it.

When you reduce the weight you carry on your shoulder, you'll minimize your susceptibility to changes in posture, and damage to your neck and the small of your back.

And it's not even just kids who are at risk. Back problems stemming from carrying heavy loads as a child can cause adverse effects in adults.

Many problems may crop up that would have been avoided if adults had not been carrying heavy backpacks as a child. One thing you can do to make a bag more comfortable to wear is to shop around and get a backpack with wide, padded straps.

These will make the weight of a backpack easier to bear for you. There are some simple tips to carry a heavy backpack with relative ease:

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To prevent back pain and injury, don't carry more than 10 percent of your weight. The absolute upper limit should be 15 percent.

So if you weigh 150 pounds, try not to carry a backpack more than 15 pounds, or 22.5 pounds at the absolute heaviest. Anything more may significantly impact your posture and risk of long-term spinal problems.

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When packing your backpack, don't just throw everything in there willy-nilly. The weight distribution matters. Try to get most of the load low in the bag.

This is practical as well as scientifically sound. A lower load makes carrying the bag easier. One study also found that low load placement produced less stress: creating fewer changes in posture and spinal curvature.

Taking breaks by relieving your shoulder and back of the weight will also reduce stress. If you really cannot avoid carrying heavy loads, exercise to strengthen core and back muscles. This will increase your body's ability to carry large weights and will help shoulder the burden.

Strengthening your muscles also helps keep the spine from twisting and ultimately promotes better posture.

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Don't sling that backpack over a single shoulder, no matter how cool you think it might look. One study found that the neck, not the back, was the weak point for carrying loads.

To help, try to take a bag that has two shoulder straps instead of one to help correct posture and more evenly distribute weight. The same study found that women were more prone to neck and back pain and pain in the shoulders.

Sedentary people who spent a lot of time sitting were more susceptible as well. If using a single strap is the only option, switch shoulders some of the time to distribute the strain on your back

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When packing a bag, try to distribute the weight evenly. This may avoid unneeded stress on your back and spine and associated pain. Science agrees.

One study found that to use an evenly weighted bag may decrease the sorts of spinal motions that cause injury. Asymmetrical bags such as totes and messenger bags should be packed following the same principles.

They should weigh no more than 10 percent of the carrier's weight to reduce injury.

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Weight is just one of two factors that can lead to injury. Another way to make the situation better is to adjust straps so that the bag sits evenly on your shoulders.

If you hold it close to the back, it will be easier to carry. Carrying a bag closer to the body by adjusting the straps will reduce the amount of sway and stress placed on the spinal muscles. For concerned bag owners, a physical therapist can help find a bag with ergonomics best suited to your body type.

So there is the answer to whether wearing a heavy bag on your back can make you short or shorter: yes, it can. But there are things you can do to prevent years of back and spine strain, even if you have to take a bag with books everywhere you go.

Look back on the tips in this post to avoid becoming shorter due to the load you bear. And if you are in the market for a new bag or backpack, check out the shop for backpacks and bags.

Now that you know how to pack and wear them without injury, you can stock up on stylish accessories without fear of long term health effects or injuries to your back and neck.

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Sara Phillipps
A vegan freelance web designer and blog writer based out of Austin, Texas USA.

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