Carrying heavy items — THE PROPER WAY!

Whether you’re a student or working full time (or in some cases, both!) chances are you may wind up carrying your belongings in a backpack of some kind whether it be a standard double strapped backpack or a messenger’s bag. But are you carrying too much?  Often times, people who carry too much or wear an ill-fitting bag over time can experience shoulder/back pain as well as numbness down the arm and hand. In addition to this, a person’s overall posture can be affected as well.

Some tips to avoid injuries and minimize stress to both shoulders and back while using a backpack are:

  1. Lighten up your load: Think about what you really need to carry and try to limit it to what’s actually necessary. For parents, regularly go through what your children are actually carrying in their backpacks to make sure they aren’t carrying anything unnecessary.
  2. Organize and equally distribute what you’re carrying: Sometimes we just have to carry a certain amount of weight. Therefore, it may be wise to equally distribute the weight of the contents of our bag. For example, heavier items closer to the center of the backpack, lighter items on the outside, and sharp items away from the back. The idea is to organize items so that your center of gravity isn’t altered by the bag and stress to your shoulders are minimized.
  3. Make sure it’s fitted properly: Make sure to adjust both straps so that the backpack sits comfortably on both shoulders and snug against your (or your child’s) back. Remember, snug but NOT uncomfortable! You should not feel any tingling/numbness to your shoulder and arms, a change in posture either forward/backwards or side to side, and finally you shouldn’t have any deep, red pressure marks from the straps after taking your backpack off.

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