Back Packs & Back Pain
Backpacks are one of the best ways to carry books, binders, lunch, running shoes and other items, whether for school or recreation. However, carrying an overloaded backpack or wearing one improperly can lead to poor posture, over-stretching of the soft tissue in your neck and back, and unnecessary strain on muscles and joints, according to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA).
Teenagers and children are particularly vulnerable to injury. They are growing and developing, and harmful or unnecessary strain on their bodies can affect their health, long term. Over time, the physical strain of carrying heavy loads can result in:
Harmful strain and fatigue in the muscles and soft tissues of the back from overuse. Leaning to one side can result in an adaptive curve in the spine. Leaning forward may affect the natural curve in the low back, and increase the curve of the upper back and shoulders.
Spinal compression and/or improper alignment that may hamper the proper functioning of the disks between the vertebrae that provide shock absorption. This leaves the back more vulnerable to injury.
Stress or compression to the shoulders and arms. When nerves are compressed it can cause tingling or numbness in the arms and eventual weakness in arms or hands.
Reduce strain by using and fitting a backpack that works for you rather than against you. CPA recommends the selection and use of backpacks with the following features:
Padded back – to reduce pressure and prevent the pack’s contents from digging into your back.
Padded, contoured, shoulder and chest straps – to help reduce pressure and balance the weight. Look for a backpack with thickly padded adjustable shoulder straps (2 inches wide) and an extra hip strap. Adjust the shoulder straps so the bottom of the pack sits two inches above your waist;
Waist belt or hip strap – to help distribute some of the load to the pelvis. The waist belt sends the weight of your pack down through your legs. Since your legs are more used to carrying weight, you won’t get tired as quickly.
Compression straps – on the sides or bottom of the backpack to help compress the contents of the backpack and stabilize the articles. Pack by weight, not size. Instead of folders or binders, put the heaviest books closest to your back.
Reflective material – for visibility to drivers at night.
Backpacks are designed to distribute the load evenly. Worn correctly and not overloaded, a backpack is supported by some of the strongest muscles in the body: the back and abdominal muscles. These muscle groups work together to stabilize the trunk and hold the body in proper balance and postural alignment. CPA recommends the following tips for safe backpack use:
• Use both shoulder straps to help distribute the weight of the pack evenly and to promote a more normal posture. Using only one strap loads the entire weight of the bag over one shoulder. Over time, leaning to one side can result in lower and upper back pain, as well as strain to the neck and shoulder. Stand tall with your head and neck aligned with your shoulders.
Make sure the backpack isn’t too heavy. When choosing a backpack, look for one made of lightweight materials, like canvas, to reduce the weight you will be carrying. A full backpack should never weigh more than 15 per cent of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 52 kg (115 lbs.), the backpack should not weigh more than 7.8 kg (17 lbs.). If you can’t carry your backpack and talk without getting out of breath, you’re carrying too much.
Fit the backpack to the person, not the person to the backpack. When buying a backpack, make sure it is not oversized ‘to carry more’. The shoulder straps should fit comfortably and not dig in to the shoulder or arm, allowing the arms to move freely. The bottom of the pack should rest in the contour of the lower back. The pack should “sit” evenly in the middle of the back, not “sag down” toward the buttocks. Backpacks for hiking and camping provide additional support through frames and special straps. Be sure to buy the right backpack for your body.
CPA recommends parents ensure their children do not carry their ‘whole world’ around with them everyday. Teach them how to wear a backpack properly (and why) and look for the following signs:
Pain when wearing the backpack; Tingling or numbness in the arms; and Red marks on the shoulders.
Above all, parents should encourage children to say if they have any pain or discomfort before it becomes a serious problem.
CPA recommends the following stretches that will keep your child’s muscles flexible and relaxed, their joints mobile, and relieve tension and strain.
Pecan Breaded Blueberry Stuffed Chicken Breast
2 Large Skinned and Deboned Chicken Breasts (the thicker the better)
½ cup Fresh Blueberries
1 Tablespoon chopped Fresh Basil
¼ cup shredded soft white cheese (mozzarella, Baby Bell, Monterey Jack, etc)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I use a fresh 12 grain, Flax Seed/Quinoa or multigrain whole wheat bread)
½ cup chopped Pecans
2 large egg whites beaten slightly
Salt and Pepper To taste
2 Tablespoon Oil (grapeseed, olive, any health oil that can be heated)
Slice a pocket into the middle of the Chicken Breasts
½ cup Fresh Blueberries
1 Tbls. chopped Fresh Basil
¼ cup shredded soft white cheese
Sprinkle of Salt and Pepper
Mix all ingredients, I use my fingers so I don’t crush my blueberries, Stuff each chicken breast with mixture.
Chop whole Grain bread into crumbs (I use my Braun Hand Mixer with the chopper container attachment)
Chop Pecans into crumbs (Same as above)
Sprinkle of Salt and Pepper
Beat egg whites slightly
Mix bread crumbs and chopped pecans, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Put half of the mixture onto a plate.
Dip stuffed chicken breast into beaten egg white and set on top of bread crumbs on plate, sprinkle more of the bread crumb mixture on top, with your hands gently cover all of the stuffed chicken breast so it is completely covered. BE GENTLE SO YOU DO NOT LOSE ANY OF YOUR STUFFING.
(Discard any of the crumb mixture you have had the chicken breasts exposed to)
Coat an oven proof pan with 2 tablespoons oil – I cook most everything in cast iron pans as I love the way they hold and distribute the heat.
Brush top and sides of Chicken Breast with oil
Place coated chicken breasts in pan and place into a 350 degree F. Oven
Bake for about 45 minutes (this will depend on your oven) or until chicken breasts are cooked.
(note: sometime a little of the juice from the berries will leak out so ensure that when you are checking them you do not mistake the juice for blood. If you cook them too long the chicken will be dry!)
EAT, LOVE, LAUGH - IT IS GOOD FOR THE BODY AND SOUL
MUCH LOVE AND APPRECIATION - HAZEL-JANE KALYN