Features In Focus

Is your tote bag killing you?

Photo: Kheira Morellon
Photo: Kheira Morellon

If you frequent the King’s campus, you’ve probably seen your fair share of tote bags emblazoned with various designs; they’re a popular way to transport stacks of books around. But what are the impacts of these silly little tote bags
An article on explores the scary facts surrounding the lopsided nature of totes and handbags. The bags shift your weight to one side, so the rest of your body compensates, and back problems can ensue. If you’re super dedicated to that tote bag aesthetic, here are a couple of tips to follow:
Switch up the sides: Alternate which side of your body you carry the bag on, so it doesn’t weigh too much in one place for too long.
Use a cross-body strap: Even though it’s still weighing down part of your body, the strap somewhat helps to ease the pain.
Empty out your tote bag on the regular: We all know that tote bags end up full of miscellaneous things that you didn’t necessarily mean to put in there in the first place.
But all of you out there that are rocking the Kankens shouldn’t think you’re living the high life over the tote bag kids: this ABC article states that 85 per cent of American university students have backpack-related back problems. Most of the trouble comes from overweight backpacks. To be healthy, a backpack should only weigh 10 to 15 per cent of the carrier’s body weight. So an 100-pound person’s backpack should weigh a maximum of 10 pounds — 15 if you really want to push it.
But never fear! This article from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons gives you a couple of tips for living your best back pain free life.
Pick a good backpack: Make sure your backpack has wide straps that are of equal length (if it’s tilted to one side, you’re defeating the purpose of transitioning from a tote to a backpack). A padded bag is good for making sure nothing juts into your back and increases your pain.
Empty out your backpack on the regular: I know this has already been mentioned, but it’s the main reason for back problems, so it warrants saying again!
If you have lots of stuff in your bag that you don’t need on a regular basis (in my case it was a copy of the Divine Comedy that I carried around for a couple weeks), then it’s going to weigh you down!
Evaluate what you need for class that day to help you slim down your backpack contents.
Organize heavy items lower in the backpack: Not only will this make sure that your lighter items don’t get crushed, it will make sure that you don’t put too much pressure on your shoulders.
This isn’t meant to scare you into chucking away your “I like big books and I cannot lie” tote bag, nor make you feel guilty for having it in the first place! Just know what you’re doing to your body, and in moderation, go use your tote bag to your heart’s content.

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