Backpack Health Concerns: When 10 Pounds in a Backpack = 72 Pounds of Force to a Student’s Spine (8 Ways to Prevent Injury) by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj
Backpacks are standard load carriers for people of all ages, especially school children and the military. Previous studies have described the impact of the forces exerted by backpacks on load distribution, back pain and gait. This study was to describes the effect of forces exerted by specific backpack weights on a model of the spine. This information could be important for understanding the load that the spine.
The Truth About Backpacks
People everywhere have struggled to assess the impact of objects in a backpack to the body in general, and to the spine in particular. Backpack use is associated with back pain, intervertebral disc compression, neck pain, altered posture, altered walking mechanics and plantar foot pressure.
Previous studies have suggested a safe load of 10 percent bodyweight in children and adolescents, 13 percent and 15 percent in young adults, and 15 to 20 percent in college-aged adults. This study focuses on the force generated to the spine.
The first affected are the ligaments. When the ligaments are stressed and are inflamed, then there is loss of side-by-side range of motion and stiffness. The muscles are also stressed and inflamed. Stressing a muscle makes it stronger. However persistent eccentric loading leads to intractable pain. The disc spaces are also eccentrically loaded seeing undo stresses. With persistent eccentric loading the process of wear, tear and degeneration proceeds. Surgery may be needed.
Ways to Prevent Injury
1. One Books = 7 Books to the Spine: When the force magnifiers are identified at 7X in neutral spine, and 12X in 20 degrees of forward posture, people should be careful with their contents in a backpack.
2. Thinking About Your Packing: Pack only what is necessary. People tend to overpack and bring every possible option available in their backpacks. A person with a hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of items. Now each items is shown to have consequences to the spine.
3. Embrace Digital Textbooks: Digital textbooks are easier to read, access pages and do not transmit forces on the spine.
4. Embrace Neutral Alignment = Proper Posture: Proper posture is the position of:
“Ears above the shoulder,
Angel Wings back” = chest open
This is the most efficient position. This proper posture includes your chin being level with the floor, your scapula retracted and your abdomen firm. Our study shows that in neutral alignment which is good posture, the forces on the spine are 7.2X the weight. With just 20 degrees of forward posture = poor posture, the force is magnified to 11.6X the weight. This is a 60 percent increase in forces.
5. Wear Both Straps: The forces on the spine are the same with one strap or two straps. Both straps allow for a division of the forces that the spine sees. Similarly, with one strap, one side sees twice the amount of forces.
6. Keep the Backpack Closest to the Body: Closest to the body is the most efficient position for diminishing spine forces
7. Develop a Strong Core and Legs: The body provides certain inherent muscle shock absorbers. Building the core muscles with for example planking helps to strengthen the body’s force dampeners. Strong thigh muscles help.
8. New Technology Diminishes Spine Forces Seen in Backpacks: Patented technologies (US Patent 9,700,080 B1) address the postural, ergonomic reinforcement of backpacks to diminish the forces seen by the spine with 40 – 70% efficiency.
The information on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider.
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