It is often difficult, inconvenient and counterproductive to completely avoid lifting and carrying. Lifting and carrying items is part of our day to day lives whether we are going to the shops, picking up our children, or carrying a bag around during the day. Hidden lifting and carrying tasks are also a big part of our working lives from bringing in the milk for the office to carrying paperwork or filling the photocopier. Also we now increasingly carry many items to and from work and between work locations such as laptop computers and paperwork. All this lifting and carrying can take its toll on our backs. It is therefore sensible to assess how we lift and carry rather than trying to avoid it all together.
There are rules and regulations that exist to protect people whose jobs involve manual handling, for
example nurses who move patients, or construction workers who lift equipment. But what about the less obvious hidden lifting and carrying tasks? We often find ourselves carrying many items around in bags on a daily basis. I would encourage you to be more aware of the hidden lifts you carry out every day and how the bag you use affects your back.
Bags come in many designs from tiny high-end handbags, cross-body bags, to functional rucksacks. All
come in various sizes and colours to reflect our different tastes and while it is great to have so much choice
in terms of style, it is important to also consider whether the bag you choose will be suitable for its
purpose and whether it is back friendly.
Hidden lifting and carrying – What you can do?
Firstly, think about what you have to carry in your bag as part of your work. Even if you don’t have a job
that involves much manual handling or lifting you may still be doing a surprising amount of hidden lifting
in the form of your bag.
If carrying files or a laptop between locations is part of your job consider the type of bag that you are
using. A rucksack or backpack would be preferable to a handbag or a briefcase as it distributes the weight
you are carrying more evenly.
Consider a rucksack with a waist strap. These are really helpful for heavy rucksacks if you will be carrying
it for a long time. Across the body strap bags are also a better alternative to the traditional one shoulder
bag as they distribute the weight better, are secure and leave both hands free.
Try not to overload your bag; carry a bag that weighs at a maximum 10% of your body weight. Two trips
to the car would be better than pulling a back muscle trying to carry a load that is far too heavy.
If you are carrying heavier items or you have more items than would comfortably fill a backpack consider
using an office trolley to pull rather than carry the items.
Choosing A Bag
The following tips may be useful when looking at various makes of rucksack.
Look out for:-
- Two wide padded straps; these will help to distribute the weight evenly and reduce the strain on the
spine and shoulders
- Adjustable straps; you will be able to adjust these so you can wear the bag correctly, high enough to
be in firm contact with the top of the spine, with the base resting on the buttocks
- A well padded back panel with curved lower edge; this will help prevent pressure on the lumbar
spine and give lumbar support.
To make sure you get the benefits of using a backpack you should wear the straps on both shoulders. You
will also need to think about how much you carry in the bag. The recommended maximum weight for
children to carry is around 10% of their body weight, this principle can also be applied to the weight adults
“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”
If the bag you carry has had an impact on you or your children’s spine or posture and you would like help, contact me now to book an appointment.