The Source Of Your Back Pain Might Be In The Bag

The Source Of Your Back Pain Might Be In The Bag

In 2021 one of the most common items we find ourselves with is some variant of laptop bag. As our technology becomes more integral to our lives we have to schlep a lot of it around, especially if your work has required you to travel or work from both home and the office. Where you once had a workstation or a desktop you worked with primarily, more and more offices are assigning laptops, VPNs and work from home days. On the bright side some mobility is good, especially for ergonomics and repetitive use injury. In other cases it can be a problem, when shouldering your laptop bag becomes just another repetitive motion.

That makes carrying our offices around on our backs or shoulders one of the most overlooked culprits of back, neck, shoulder and even lower back and hip pain. Often times this has as much to do with HOW we’re carrying our laptops, tablets etc. around as much as the very fact that we are more often now. Most of us will carry our laptop, cool-pad and/or lapdesk, power adapter, mouse, external harddrives, tablets, phones and chargers (and possibly a stack or two of business cards) in your laptop carrier, shoulder bag, messenger bag, back pack or wheelie case. If you’re old school you might even have some pens and pencils, notepads and such in there and even a bottle of water or two among other personal sundries. It’s like going back to school! (Which might give us cause to rethink our kids’ backpacks… but hey… one blog at a time please.) Either way, you could be talking about anywhere from 5 to twenty pounds your lugging around and after awhile, that’s going to take it’s toll on you, no matter how good of shape you’re in.

Let’s take a look at some common postures:

  • The Shoulder-Lean… (2006 called and Young Dro has a copyright claim to talk about)
    • Most people have a tendency to lift the carrying shoulder up higher than the unencumbered side to counter the weight of the bag you’re carrying. That’s definitely going to skew your entire skeletal structure out of alignment and put a bunch of pressure on your spine, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves associated with them. Long story short: If you carry your laptop bag this way, at least make sure you’re alternating sides frequently or consider splitting the load into two bags and carrying one on each arm. At the very least, it’ll help your spinal alignment and even out the load.
  • Messenger Style Bags & Back Packs:
    • Many experts recommend a messenger style bag or backpack any day of the week and twice on Sunday over bag carried on one shoulder. While it’s true that this achieves some load balancing you still need to make certain that your load isn’t too heavy and that you don’t favor one side over the other as many habitually do after having carried a briefcase of laptop tote for years, or just sling the backpack over one shoulder. (You’d be surprised how often you do that without thinking about it.)
  • The Surprising disadvantage of the rollerbag:
    • How tall are you? If you’re anything above 5’9” make sure that you try before you buy, if your handle is too low, then you’re likely to slouch while you pull your case, which will accomplish the opposite of what you’re looking for, instead you’ll be setting yourself up for a whole different kind of pain.

Here are some tips in on laptop bags:

-Find a lightweight laptop.

-Use a tablet instead whenever you can.

-Balance your load no matter what you’re carrying.

-Consider a backpack with back support, Alex Renda, PT, a physical therapist at USA Sports Therapy, a good, supporting backpack shouldn’t hang more than 4 inches below your waist. If it sits too low (with the bulk of the backpack near your low back or hips), your spinal muscles will compensate, which leads to back pain and fatigue in other parts of your body, says Renda according to

-When appropriate, use jump drives.  These fit in your pocket and eliminate the need to carry your laptop around.

Find your nearest Summa Pain Care location in Peoria, Phoenix or North Scottsdale today and don’t put this off any longer. Unaddressed chronic or severely acute back, neck and joint pain generally don’t improve. Call our Phoenix location at 623.580.4357 , you can reach Peoria at 623.776.8686 or contact us in North Scottsdale at 480.786.1771.

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