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Backpacks and backaches

This week's question

My back hurts from carrying my backpack, what can I do?

My answer - Back to school means back to backpacks, and it's certainly that time of year. Barely a week into the school year and I already have some reports of new/increased back and hip pain. This is very common, and not just for students but as the workforce heads back into the office, carrying books/papers/computers can take a toll on anyone's back.

My first step to help this is to "lighten the load." Look through your bag and see what you REALLY need to be carrying back and forth every day. That folder of papers you carry just in case you need to reference them from 2 years ago...does it really need to be in your bag daily? Is there anything you can take out or keep a duplicate of at home/the office/school so it doesn't have to be brought back and forth?

For students, sometimes they are required to carry certain textbooks/notebooks daily, but if they have a history of back problems may be able to get a duplicate set of books to leave in the classroom, or an exception to use one notebook for multiple classes.

Students - make sure you are using your lockers as well! They are there so you DONT have to carry your books around all day.

If you are heading to work or college, can you schedule a pit stop to your dorm/office/etc in between meetings and classes to switch out what you need with you?

The second thing we can do is make sure we are wearing our bag correctly. Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of the backpack - I still use one for work and travel rather than a tote bag. The even distribution of weight can be helpful, which brings me to number 3.

Posture and how we are carrying ourselves! Even if we have a light backpack, that we are wearing squarely across both shoulders, if we are standing hunched over with our belly sticking out, our backs are going to feel it. Work to align your rib cage over your pelvis, so the added weight on your back is distributed over your whole spine, rather than just one area.

Hope this helps! Have questions? Email us at

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