Carrying Heavy Bags: Shoulder and Back Injuries

November 21, 2018

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping and traveling to visit family! But, did you know that carrying heavier bags can lead to shoulder and back injuries? For instance, backpacks can cause disc compression in children that can result in negative repercussions during adulthood. In this blog post, we’ll discuss a few ways to keep you pain-free this season, making it a more enjoyable holiday for all.

It’s suggested that pre-adolescents regularly carry as much as 10 percent of their body weight in bags, luggage and other materials, but often, they will carry close to 30 percent. When traveling this holiday season, it’s important that this weight is distributed evenly across both sides of the body. One way to encourage better posture is by having a high-seated, close-fitting backpack that will help prevent the slouching that traditional backpacks can cause. When worn correctly, backpacks are a great tool to reduce tension in the back, as they are designed to distribute the weight properly.

Carrying a heavy bag on the same side of the body for a long period of time can cause the shoulder to roll forward and down. This will, in turn, cause the muscles in the upper back and neck to stretch, and can lead to weak muscles. If this continues, thoracic outlet syndrome can occur. Be sure to alternate shoulders throughout the day to avoid unnecessary strain.

Around 80 percent of the U.S. population will have back pain at some point in their lives, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Oversized bags can cause long-term issues, such as muscle spasms or pinched nerves. However, one way to improve the impact that bags and luggage can have on the body is to carry less. When packing, try to choose smaller and fewer items to include. This will help reduce the amount of weight you are carrying overall.

Another way to prevent pain is by doing three sets of 15-20 reps of shoulder resistance exercises with lighter weights. This will help improve strength in the neck, upper back and shoulder muscles.

By implementing regular exercise and awareness into your routine, you can prevent pain and ensure a healthy lifestyle. Take the weight off your shoulders this holiday season and enjoy a time of rest with family and friends.

This article was adapted from Pain Stop Clinics and Healthline. Read the full article here and here.

If you have any questions about back and shoulder injuries, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.

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