Backpacks and purses share one thing in common: they’re detrimental to the health of your spine. According to the prestigious scientific journal Spine, when a young adult has completed high school, they have experienced at least one episode of back pain, due partly to improper use of backpacks.

Children and adults carry excessive amounts of weight on their backs and shoulders, upwards of 20 pounds or more, contributing to premature spinal degeneration. Backpacks and purses cause postural shifts, resulting in shifts in spinal alignment. Shifts of spinal vertebra are called vertebral subluxations, which lead to back and neck pain, muscular tension and imbalance/asymmetry, decreased range of motion, early degeneration and arthritic changes.

When walking with a loaded backpack or purse hanging off of one shoulder, one will compensate by leaning towards the opposite direction, resulting in the body compensating for weight imbalance, causing muscles to work much harder on one side of the body versus the other. Looking at the side view of a person, you’ll notice how their head becomes displaced forward, causing anterior head syndrome.

As chiropractors that focus on the structural spinal correction, we now see a higher incidence of children and adults with severe neck and back pain. Pressure applied to the spine in adolescence can leave a permanent scar, no different than leaving a footprint in wet cement

Here are some suggestions to prevent damage to the spine that may result from the use of backpacks:

1. Use a backpack with belt straps, stabilizing the waist.

2. The backpack should have a structurally reinforced base, preventing unnecessary sagging.

3. Face the backpack when lifting it onto your shoulders.

4. Bend at the knees, squat down and use your legs to lift it.

5. Slip one arm at a time underneath the straps, securing both straps comfortably around shoulders.

6. Make sure all straps are adjusted and backpack is snug to body.

Chiropractors that focus on structural correction of the spine practice a technique called Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP®), a corrective technique that is not part of the standard curriculum at any college. CBP® doctors commit to extensive post-graduate study in spinal biomechanics and biophysics, and it’s supported by more research in scientific journals than any chiropractic technique.

When visiting a CBP® practice, we perform a very thorough structural evaluation. In addition to offering structural corrective care, we go the extra mile by providing education to help families implement proper postural habits that will prevent further damage to their spines and inhibit subluxation.

Dr. Chad Laurence is a Doctor of Chiropractic, and is one of less than 500 doctors in the world to be recognized as a distinguished fellow of Chiropractic Biophysics. He is the owner of Corrective Chiropractic in Hockessin, DE. Dr. Laurence focuses on an area of chiropractic called Structural Correction and has been in practice for 12 years. You can reach Dr. Laurence at or (302) 234-1115. You can also follow Dr. Laurence on Twitter (, and on Facebook (!/CorrectiveChiroHockessin?fref=ts), or on the web, at

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