Are Messenger Bags Bad For Your Back? in-depth Guide


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The finest fabric crafts a messenger bag. You can carry it on one shoulder with a strap over the chest, with the bag resting on the lower back. Carralls and slings are the types of messenger bags.

Messenger bags and backpacks’ purpose is the same, providing comfort for all those carrying huge, bulky stuff while also providing quick access to the contents. A messenger bag differs from a shoulder bag.

It is generally broader than it is tall. Usually include qualities that make them appropriate for motorcycling.

Nowadays, a debate has started, are messenger bags bad for your back? If you’re seeking an answer, then, fortunately, you are in the right place. 

Are Messenger Bags Bad For Your Back
Image Credit by Flickriver

If you are experiencing back pain, it might be due to carrying the luggage improperly for a few days or weeks. But is it a messenger bag that gives you back pain, or do you wear a bag wrongly?

In an NBC News report, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, as many as 75-85 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. According to a 2012 report about Musculoskeletal Pain Disorders from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 20 percent of American adults suffered from lower back pain, more than 14 percent suffered from neck pain and almost 10 percent struggled with sciatica. Considering the U.S. population that year clocked in at over 310 million, that’s a lot of hurting.

What’s more, according to a 2016 NPR – Truven Health Analytics Poll, more than half of the people surveyed said they suffered from the lower back in the past year. Though more than half of those who suffered said they treated their pain without going to the doctor (most back pain resolves on its own), the most commonly recommended treatment offered by doctors was prescription painkillers — often opioids — by a staggering 40 percent.

Considering, over 1000 people are admitted to emergency departments for abusing prescription opioids per day according to the CDC, opioid deaths are at a staggering high. All this said, it might behoove us to try and do anything and everything we can to prevent chronic neck and back pain in the first place — starting with what we choose to tote around.

Let’s jump into the matter and find out the back pain issues people face due to carrying a messenger bag these days!

So, how to wear a messenger backpack properly?

Messenger Bag Size

A wrong size messenger bag might cause back and neck strain. Always go for the smaller option; you will save yourself by carrying unnecessary items. 

If you carry a lot of stuff in your big messenger bag, get yourself prepared for shoulder and back pain. Choose your things wisely, always take those items with you which are compulsory, do not burden yourself.

Hand Carry

If you might hook on one shoulder strap messenger bag, then you can’t avoid using it. Then use a bag accurately by wearing the gear with a long shoulder strap and experiencing pain in your back.

If the shoulder strap is too short, carry the bag with one hand as a purse. By doing this, you will save yourself from backaches.

Narrow Shoulder Straps

Sometimes the shoulder strap of your messenger bag can cause you back or neck ache, and it might be due to a thin, lengthy shoulder strap.

The width of the shoulder strap and the load packed in the bag had a stronger connection. Choose a shoulder strap that is padded and wide. So, if you have shoulder or neck issues and carry a lot of stuff, then a well-padded and wide shoulder strap will be safe for you.

Too Much Weight On One Side

If you carry extra weight on one side of your body and carry it for a long time, that is the most significant cause of back pain. It will cause the spinal curve, triggering back pain issues. Sometimes a backpack with water bottle weighs on one side of the body and causes trouble.

While choosing a messenger bag, keep in mind that always pick a bag with a single strap that can cover your whole body and not give you backache or shoulder pain. 

What is the Best Way to Wear a Messenger Bag? 

Wearing a messenger bag properly is an essential factor. You can wear your messenger bags on either your right or left shoulder. Look for the right side of the bag’s strap and wear it over your left or right shoulder. Padding must be placed correctly in this case. Locate the padding and place it over your shoulder.

Always place the handle either on your left or right shoulder to carry the bag. Pack the load such that the chest strap runs straight across your chest, where you sense the most padding and support. This thing might vary from folk to folk, and it all depends on your torso length.

Most bags have a one-sided strap that runs beneath the shoulder strap to keep your bag from slipping. In Chrome bags, the belt runs under the same shoulder. On the opposite side, this attaches to the bottom of a messenger bag.

Which Bag Should You Pick?

Let’s find out how to wear each kind of bag around, and what are some common issues you might face while carrying a bag incorrectly. 

Ergonomic Sling Bags

We all carry the bags on our shoulders, so let’s proceed with the usual shape of the shoulder. If you closely observe your shoulder, the base of the neck is generally higher than the tip of the shoulder; it produces a natural downward slope. 

As a result, when you place a  sling bag on a single shoulder, the bag has a chance to slide off the shoulder. It will cause severe and unbearable shoulder pain, stiffness, or even neck pain.

The proper method to carry a sling bag is with the strap over your chest. Instead of slipping off the shoulder, the bag’s weight pushes the belt towards the base of the neck. There would be no need to raise the shoulder unnecessarily.

Another advantage of slinging a bag over your chest is that your hips may carry the weight. The downward pressure on your shoulder is also lesser, which reduces the possibility of over-using your shoulder and neck muscles.

Ergonomic Backpacks

Backpacks are available in different styles and a wide range, ergonomic backpacks main focus is on limiting the weight, flattening the single compartment so it should lie down smoothly to the spine.

Usually, there are two straps on either shoulder. This way, the bag will not quickly fall off the shoulder compared to the sling bag. Therefore, it will reduce the risk of a shoulder injury.

The most important thing is to adjust the strap length so that the backpack stays tight to the back. Look for bags with front straps that cross the chest or abdomen if at all feasible. Suppose you will hold the load close to your body using such straps.

The less mobility the bags have, the closer and firmer they are to the body like high school beginners use a specifically designed backpack for high school freshmen. As a result, the less your body has to struggle to transport it, the better.

Ergonomic Luggage Bag

The luggage bag can be easily attached to the back of your suitcase because the load is on the ground, and it has a more negligible effect on your back pose. In any case, the length of the handle isn’t accurately balanced. For example, on the off chance that it’s too short, one must turn and twist to the side to drag the bag. 

This way, a person may experience a back strain. On the other hand, in case the length of the handle is as well lengthy, one would have to lift the bear too much to oblige the position of the handle. This handle position is often not perfect for the pose.

An appropriate length of the handle is the key. Usually, after you drag the pack, your shoulder should stay down and loose with the elbow bowed marginally. There should be any turning or side-bending of the trunk as well. 

Finally, but not slightest, the weight should not be as overwhelming to cause conceivable arm muscle strain, significantly extra careful about it while you travel for an extended period.

Even nursing school students need to carry a lot of stuff so keeping this in mind companies specifically design rolling backpacks for nursing students with which they can easily attach their handbags as well.

Ergonomic Handbags

On the other hand, what if you have a handbag with a single strap that cannot fit your shoulder, and you have to use it alone without straining your spine. In case you’re carrying a “tote bag” with a long strap.

Ideally, you ought to put the strap askew over the chest for disseminating the weight. Rotating between the shoulders on which you carry the pouch would offer assistance, an extraordinary deal.

Is wearing a messenger bag bad for your Back and shoulders?

Doctors have confirmed that if you wear a messenger bag with a lot of stuff, it might cause some back pain. So, be careful about the weight, switch up the sides you put the strap on and keep stretching your muscles after using them.

What is the best solution for back pain?

Always wear your messenger bag or backpacks properly, focus on the posture, manage the weight, and do some strengthening exercises to avoid back pain.

What are the differences between a messenger bag and a backpack?

The difference between them is the strap. The messenger bag has a single strap, while the backpack has two straps to carry on both shoulders. Messenger bags help carry documents and laptops while you can pack anything in your backpack that fits in it.

What type of bag is best for your back?

The double straps on a backpack are best because they will evenly distribute weight on your body.

Frequent travelers are carrying backpacks as a remedy for their back pain.

What size backpack for traveling should Buy?

It depends on where you are supposed to go like if you are going for a day trip 20-30 liters size would be enough, if you are going on hiking then probably you need a hiking backpack to take a lot of items, maybe you need to make camping tent from scratch, and travel bags with hidden compartments would be the best choice.

There are hiking backpacks for petite women as well available in the market. If you are going for a hunting adventure then an external frame hunting backpack would be the best choice.

Final Words

In the end, now can we conclude: Are messenger bags bad for your back? 

We can say that it will not give you back pain if you use it properly, and you do not need to overstuff your bags. Due to the heavyweight, there’s a chance of creating neck, shoulder, and back pain.

If you wear your backpack over one shoulder, you may end up leaning to one side to adjust the extra weight. If you do not use your bags appropriately, it will lead to an awful pose and back pain.

Hopefully, you will find this article informative and helpful to avoid back pain in the future when you use either one of these; messenger bags, backpacks, sling bags, satchel.

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