Backpack safety

This is week three of our series about upper back pain and with back to school we will talk about backpack safety. But first here are the links to the previous two weeks blog incase you missed them:

week one Upper Back Pain
Week 2 Upper back pain

 This week since the kids in the GTA go back to school on Wednesday I thought I would talk about backpack safety.  Backpack safety is important for not only upper back pain but all back pain and joint health.  This is particularly important for our kiddos but as well for everyone who uses a backpack – I still do!  Damage to joints and the cause of pain and long-term problems are cumulative so everything you can do for your kids, and you help.  This includes regular adjustments and of course ergonomics and backpack safety – which is just really proper or best ergonomics to use while wearing a backpack.

backpack safety – choosing the right one for you or your child

Backpack safety tips

Ok so I am going to do this in point form because it is probably easier that way. Here are the tips I have for protecting yourself from upper back pain and all joint damage while wearing a backpack.

  • Choose a well-made backpack including wide straps and a padded back
  • Choose a lightweight backpack
  • Do not overpack – the weight of your pack should not be more than 10% of body weight
  • In order not to overpack take just what you need for the day
  • Keep the load as close to the back of the pack as possible (not in only the front pouches)
  • Wear both straps at the same time not just one
  • Use the waist strap if there is one to support some of the weight
  • Get in the habit of placing your pack on the table and turning around to put on both straps instead of slinging over your shoulder

Here is where you can get more information on backpack saftey

So those are our tips for this week – for more please see the links included below from the Ontario and Canadian Chiropractic associations regarding backpack safety!

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Good luck to all the kiddos going back to school and parents and educators too!

Upper back pain stretch

This week I will give you a great upper back pain stretch for pain and one for neck strengthening.  While I use these for people at the clinic with upper back pain due to rib problems I also use if for neck pain, and other causes of upper back pain.

Last week we started a series on Upper Back pain and talked about how to decrease pain between the shoulder blades (due to ribs not moving well).  If you missed it here is the link to the blog post:

Upper back pain stretch 1

So, the first one is a true stretch, and it is called the levator scapulae stretch.  Really you want to do all stretches on both sides, but we are going to talk about this for the side of pain ok?  I will talk you through this stretch for upper back pain and below is a link to a YouTube video I made so you can follow along more easily.

Let’s pick the left side as the side of upper back pain for this example.  First drop your chin to your chest. Now rotate your head to your right armpit so your nose is pointing in that direction.  Now place your right hand over the top of your head and gently pull down. You should feel a stretch along the back left side of the neck and maybe all the way to your shoulder blade if you are doing this right.  Next take your left hand and grab the back of the seat of your chair if you want a bigger stretch. Hold for at least 20-30 seconds or longer

For the link to the YouTube video for this stretch click here

Stretch 2

For this upper back pain stretch one I am lying just a bit. It is more of a strengthening exercise, but I feel a stretch at the back of my neck, probably because I am super tight and need it. This is a doubly good one for upper back pain because it is relieving and strengthening. This one is called resisted retractions.  I do this in the car. DON’T DO IT WHEN DRIVING! I do this at a red light. Make a double chin.  Push your head back into the headrest (think of the action a pigeon does).  Hold for 10-20 seconds or longer as you get better at it

For the link to this video click here

Ok that’s it for this week.  Next week in honour of school starting (yes I know, shhhh!!!! Sorry!!!) we will talk about backpack safety and ergonomics for the kiddos (and any of us overage kiddos like me who still use backpacks sometimes).

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Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain part 1

Ever have pain in the upper back, near your shoulder blades, in your lower neck or traps (sometimes patients call this their shoulders), your neck or have headaches?  If you have then read this newsletter and blog – if not read it anyways you or someone you know may need it.  I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Every week for the next 5-6 weeks our newsletter Quick Tip Tuesday will have a short tip on upper back pain. I will be posting these on our blog each week too so you will continue to have access to it. Each week we will have a bit of a different focus and one or two quick things you can do to help yourself with upper back pain.  Then each month or so a new topic will start and we will do the whole thing over again!  So please feel free to share this newsletter and the blog posts with friends and family who you think it could help!

Pain relief for upper back pain

This week we will focus on pain relief for upper back pain.  I will tell you that a lot of upper back pain that I treat is caused by the ribs.   So, a lot of my patients have never thought of their ribs except the ones that sort of stick out near the upper part of their belly.  But the ribs form a cage around the lungs and heart. The ribs are supposed to move up and down very slightly like a bucket handle with every breath but sometimes they stop moving correctly.  But why?   Life, lifting, sitting, ergonomics, injury, the list is endless and there is rarely one reason this happens. The truth is that problems are cumulative and getting adjusted regularly really helps avoid things like this kind of upper back pain.

picture of rib cage - often upper back pain happens right between the shoulder blades

Too late and you already have pain?

Don’t fret, if you have pain already, I am going to give you a quick tip to help yourself right now if this rib problem is the issue.  Of course, you should come in and get checked out to be sure this is the issue so please book an appointment so we can make sure you are doing all the right things to heal. In the meantime, try the towel trick or using a ball like a lacrosse ball on that spot between the spine and the shoulder blade and lay on it with your arms outstretched in a T formation for about 5 minutes.  This should help ease the pain for a time.  Also please ice it for about 10 minutes. Please see the youtube videos below that I created for these two tips!

Towel trick exercise

For a link to the towel trick exercise for upper back pain click here

lacrosse ball trick

for a link to the lacrosse ball trick for upper back pain click here

While this is not going to fix all of your upper back pain it will be a pain decreasing measure you can take right now at home until you can come in to see me.  A few adjustments may be needed to get that rib moving again, calm down the inflammation and let the muscles relax. We’ve got this!

Next week once you are out of acute upper back pain we will talk a bit more abour things you can do to help stretch those muscles!