Did you know that many of our injuries are the result of the biomechanical misalignment of the body? This results in problems like back pains even among adults. What can be considered alarming is that conditions like back pains is becoming more prevalent in children and teens. What can you do to protect your spine when backpacking around the world? Here are some things to consider.
A contributory factor to the cause of severe back pains is the use of overweight backpacks. This cannot be taken for granted considering that it can have a negative impact on your spine. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission of the United States, over 7,000 people are rushed to the emergency room every day.
Based on statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 3.7 million Australians are suffering from some form of back problems. This is an alarming 16% of the population for the year 2014 to 2015 alone. So when backpacking around the world, here are things to consider:
- Get to know the trail – obviously, you will encounter different trails around the world. Getting to know the characteristics of the trail based on the specific season you are planning your trip will help you gauge whether you are fit enough and have the right skills to proceed with your trip. Some trails will be more difficult to manage when the weather is less than ideal.
- Proper footwear – by knowing the trail or terrain you will encounter on your trip, you will be able to use the proper shoes and socks combination. Not only will this help you avoid getting blisters, but having the proper foot support will lessen the possibility of putting unnecessary strain on your back.
- Right backpack – a pack that is specifically fitted to your type of body also lessens the strain that it exerts on your back, neck, shoulders, and hips. This holds true regardless of the weight of the pack you are carrying. A pack that comes with a hip belt lessens the weight placed on your shoulders and back. Remember to never overload the pack.
- Endurance and health – although backpacking around the world is extremely fun and enjoyable, it is necessary to have the right endurance and health before you go on the trip. Part of the preparation is building up your endurance, flexibility, strength, and balance. Stretching before you go on hikes will also protect your body.
- Dehydration – regardless of the weather, it is always a good rule of thumb to be properly hydrated when you backpack around the world. Carrying enough water and keeping your body hydrated is also one way of staying away from injuries and protecting your spine.
Regardless whether you are planning to take your child on your backpacking adventure or not, it is important to protect them from the back pain trend currently experienced by youngsters. The problem arises from the uneven weight that these youngsters carry in their backpacks including the improper way of using it, like just having it hang on one shoulder. Why do we see so many children carrying heavy backpacks to school experience back pains?
The cause of the pain experienced by 60% of these students can be attributed to the weight of the pack. In a study done in Italy, it was discovered that the average child has a pack that is equal to 39 pounds being carried by a 176-pound man or a 132-pound woman carrying 29 pounds.
This affects youngsters because they are forced to alter their posture just to balance the heavy pack on their backs. Many are seen leaning forward from the waist with their shoulders round and head in front of the body.
When the backpack hangs on one shoulder, there is a tendency to lean towards the opposite side to balance the weight. If the same posture adjustment is adopted when backpacking around the world, this will put stress and pressure on the spine joints including the discs located between the connected bones of the spine.
Why do we need to protect the spine? In case you haven’t realized it yet, the spine protects the nerve system of the body. When subjected to frequent injury, the nerve system becomes irritated resulting in headaches, neck pain, and back pains. On the long term, these conditions may become permanent.
Most doctors would agree that the chronic neck and back pains experienced by both children and adults is due to the improper posture that puts a stress on our spines. As the improper posture becomes the norm, the chronic pain will be carried from childhood to adulthood.
What to Do
With the aim of protecting your spine when backpacking around the world, what can you do to avoid back pains? According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), prevention can be done by:
- Ensuring that the weight of the backpack should be maintained at 5 to 15 percent of the body weight. This should be strictly observed for children. The heavier the pack, the more you are prone to lean forward to support the weight and stress your back.
- The bottom of the pack should not go beyond 4 inches from your waistline. When the backpack hangs too low the weight on the shoulders increases and travels to your back and spine.
- Choose backpacks with individualized compartments to effectively balance the contents. Bulky and pointed objects must always be stored as far away from your back so that it will not injure you.
- Getting the right backpack size will help protect your spine. There is a tendency to carry more items when there is plenty of room available. This makes the pack heavier and exerts more pressure on the spine.
- There is a reason why backpacks have 2 shoulder straps – so use them simultaneously to avoid muscle and neck spasms including lower back pains. The wider and more padding the straps have, the better it is.
- Adjust the shoulder straps to ensure proper fitting for both young and adult. Loose straps can cause pain and spinal misalignment.
As you prepare for your trip, it is important to have a full grasp on the need to protect your spine when backpacking around the world. If you need advice for staying spinally-fit in Australia, let Complete Chiropractic help you today. Make the call!