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Minding Your Posture for Better Health

Don’t let backpacks, laptops, or back pockets hold you back

Posture is more than just about how you carry yourself as you walk, or what position you sleep in. Students also deal with carrying heavy backpacks and purses, sitting awkwardly using a laptop, and for men: carrying belongings in the back pockets of pants.

Tips on how to avoid health problems from these items

Backpacks and other heavy bags can set you up for poor posture and musculoskeletal complaints. The added stress of heavy backpacks can be hard on your joints and muscles.

Tip #1: Backpacks should weigh no more than 10-15% of your body weight. Pack heaviest items closest to your body.

Backpacks have two straps for a reason! Only using a single strap may look cool but it creates unequal stresses on your body, especially the shoulder muscles.

Tip #2: A properly fitting backpack should have two adjustable, padded straps, which allow the bag to hang no more than four inches below your waistline.

Purses are great, but ridiculously heavy ones may set you up for later musculoskeletal problems.

Tip #3: Try and limit your purse to no more than 10% of your body weight.

We know, finals can be a headache. But don’t let finals give you one.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time, even with the best of posture, can be hard on your body.

Tip #4: Take a study-break every 15 to 20 minutes to stand up and walk around for a few minutes. This stretches your muscles and helps you remain focused.

Tired of sitting?

Tip #5: Try studying at a tall counter or treadmill where you can stand instead. Just don’t forget to wear proper footwear!

Contrary to their name, laptops are not for your lap!

Tip #6: Laptops are better suited for a table or desk at eye-level, which decreases stress on your neck muscles from constantly looking down which can lead to neck pain and headaches.

Don’t be fooled, those back pockets can be a real pain.

Men, we know your options are limited but wearing wallets in your back pocket places unequal stresses on your spine and musculature and can lead to low back pain and neuralgia.

Tip #7: Instead, place wallets in your jacket or backpack.


Northwestern Health Sciences University chiropractic student Nathan Servey researched and wrote the tips in this article.

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