Ah, fall…the children are off to school and grown-up schedules ramp up to match. With the first cool breezes of September, business schedules snap awake from their vacation torpor and meetings cluster on every available evening and weekend.
Whether you’re a solo professional, a student, or a parent safeguarding your children’s needs as well as your own, you’re carrying a lot on your back…often literally, all day long! And as the summer styles slip into fall, this is a good time to make sure that you’re carrying it in a healthy way.
Handbags, diaper bags, schoolbags, briefcases, laptop cases…any chiropractor will tell you that a well-designed bag can make the difference between daily comfort and daily pain. To keep your back strong and healthy, keep these points in mind when you’re choosing and using your everyday bag:
Keep it light – Buy the lightest, smallest bag that will hold your daily necessities. If you’re carrying more than 6.5 pounds in your shoulder bag (whether it’s ergonomically designed or not!), look to redistribute the load in a backpack. If you or your child is consistently carrying around a bulging backpack, consider buying one with a metal frame, wheels, and a handle for pulling.
Choose your bag realistically: if you’re going to be carrying your laptop in it, make sure you have space for all the peripherals, and include them in your weight estimation.
Be sure your bag has wide, padded straps to protect your shoulders.
Choose a bag with lots of compartments to distribute weight more evenly.
Wear a backpack high up, between your shoulder blades, not down on your lumbar region. If you’re using a shoulder bag, switch it from one shoulder to the other.
If you’re buying a bag for your child, use this Fitting Guide for A Child’s Backpack.
Test your bag when it’s loaded up. If you’re slumping over or leaning to one side with the weight, it’s either too heavy, unevenly distributed, poorly fitted…or the wrong design for your build.
Don’t let stuff accumulate in your bag. Go through your bag frequently and clear out whatever you aren’t using. Keep the things you’ll need later on (or someday) in the glove box of your car, a locker, or a convenient desk drawer.
Finally, even with the lightest, most ergonomically-designed bag, it’s important to take care of your spine and back muscles. Do stretching exercises to keep your back limber, and consider seeing a chiropractor and massage therapist regularly to release tension and adjust misalignments before they become serious.