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Posted on 11-13-2015
Author- Dr. Ryan Curda
Backpack health is a concern for parents and students alike. Children in particular are required to carry
increasingly heavy loads of books and school work in larger and larger packs. The increased stress
caused by an over-loaded pack can cause back and neck pain. Several factors contribute to the overall
balance of your body, and carrying a 20lb. plus bag can throw everything out of whack. It isn't just back
packs either; purses, briefcases, suit cases, and satchels can all greatly contribute to negatively affecting
When wearing a back pack that is too heavy for the person wearing it several things happen to
accommodate the load. You'll see the head jutted forward, you or your child is subconsciously using
you their head as a “counter balance” to stay upright. This causes tightening of the muscles in the front
of the neck and the base of the skull, this will typically cause headaches, numbness into the arms, and
even decreased breathing ability. The shoulders will be rounded forward to support the weight of the
straps. This will strengthen the muscles in the front of the shoulders and weaken the muscles in the
back of the shoulders. This imbalance can lead to pain between the shoulder blades, pain into the
shoulder, and even lead to an impingement syndrome. These are all issues caused by wearing a
backpack that is overloaded on both shoulders. What if you only wear one strap at a time, or use a
purse exclusively on one side? In that case you will see shoulder hiking and a head tilt to the opposite
side. This will lead to chronic tightness of the neck and shoulder muscles on one side only creating
massive imbalances that can cause headaches, neck pain, arm numbness, and shoulder blade pain.
Here are a couple simple tips to help to avoid causing lasting damage to your spine and can help
prevent future injury. Always wear both straps over your shoulders whenever carrying your pack,
loading one side of your body will create imbalances and compensation. Keep shoulder straps adjusted
to keep the load tight to your back and even from side to side. Try to avoid overloading your pack with
excessive weight, if you cannot carry your pack comfortably for 20-30 min without becoming fatigued
there is probably too much weight for your size. If you are still having pain in the back, neck, or any
other concerns after trying these adjustments there may be another underlying cause that should be
assessed by a Chiropractor. If you have any questions or need help finding a qualified Doctor of
Chiropractic in your area please call Personalized Chiropractic at 858-866-3345 to find help.
Please Leave a Comment of your experiences or those of your kids.
-Dr. Ryan Curda
Or visit our Pacific Beach Chiropractic Center at
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