by Naomi Mills, Chiropractor at Life & Light Chiropractic
With more stay-at-home holidays planned this year, more of us will be packing up bags to be prepared for the ever-changing British weather! With this in mind, it’s really important to think about the long-term implications of the bag you choose to carry all your gear.
Did you know your spine is the most important part of your body? It acts as a transmission station to let your brain know everything that is happening inside and outside your body, so your brain can decide the best way to respond. Everything that influences your quality of life: sleep, energy, healing, hormone levels, digestion and more, involves the passing of nerve signals between your body and brain and back again. With this in mind, it’s worth thinking about how you carry a loaded bag as you want to keep the physical stress on your spine to a minimum.
Of course, this means trying not to overload you bag and pack more than you need, but it also matters how you hold it on your shoulders. Think of a door hanging in it’s frame: if the hinges are unbalanced then they will wear out much more quickly than if the door’s weight is distributed evenly. So, when it comes to placing your backpack, slinging it over one shoulder is a bit like only fitting the top hinge – a quick way to build up pressure and create damage on your back muscles and spine, potentially increasing the amount of wear and tear you experience throughout your life.
When it comes to fitting your backpack, go for balance. Make sure the straps are equal on each shoulder, ideally with wider pads to spread the weight. Bags that have extra straps across the chest and hips will spread the load evenly across the whole back which is even better. Now you can carry your load for long periods without doing any long-term damage to your spine and health.
In contrast, carrying a bag over just one shoulder creates an uneven load causing your body to try to adapt. Even light loads carried over short periods of time will begin to have a negative impact on your spine that may not become noticeable for weeks or even months. Just like forgetting to brush your teeth occasionally won’t do long term damage, but stopping for weeks on end does, the habit of slinging a bag over your shoulder creates compensations that are much more likely to create long term changes to your posture and damage to your spine.
Bear in mind that most women are used to carrying handbags on one shoulder which makes it all the more tempting to do the same when we have a rucksack to take out. However, in an ideal world our handbags would be carried across both shoulders or at least made much smaller and lighter (always a good excuse to get a new handbag I say)! Research on the weight of women’s handbags found that an average weight of 5lbs in 2008 has increased to 6.7lbs in 2018 and continues to rise. For many of us, carrying our essentials is already having an impact on our bodies and health as this weight, when carried regularly, is not insignificant to our health. If you’re packing a rucksack, chances are you are bringing enough for a daily outing or activity which can easily mean 20lbs of weight or more so it’s even more important to be as balanced and comfortable as possible while you’re doing it. The quality of your life depends on it!
Choose your backpack or Rucksack over Shoulderbags at WanderWomen events. Book now!