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Carrying a heavy bag causes back pain. Here's how to avoid it

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, November 16, 2019  /  11:01 am
Carrying a heavy bag causes back pain. Here's how to avoid it

Fischer recommends 1.3 kg as the maximum weight to carry while commuting.  (Shutterstock/Mangostar)

Standing cramped inside a bus full of strangers can be depressing, but the 5 kilograms on your back can make it even worse.

From gadgets, to reading materials and packed lunch, daily commuters toss everything into their bags, lift them up and then carry them. Lugging all that for hours can have a painful effect on back muscles and the spine, especially in the long run.

“Your bag is one of the easiest things to modify about your environment,” Dr. Charla Fischer, a spine surgeon at NYU Langone’s Spine Center, told the New York Post.

Fischer recommends 1.3 kg as the maximum weight to carry while commuting. 

“Anything more than 1.3 kg can wreak havoc on your back by putting pressure on spine discs, leading to repetitive-stress injuries, muscle strain and even chronic pain,” she suggests. 

People who work in Jakarta spend an average of four hours commuting every day, as reported by It gets even worse in rush hours. 

There are, however, ways to make commuting more comfortable, aside from waiting for a less crowded bus:

Sort your bag regularly

Tossing in everything for the whole week might seem less troublesome, but a large number of lightweight items still leads to a heavy overall load. Swap a big pack of wet tissues for a smaller one for the day, and reconsider whether to bring that extra makeup. 

Another handy tip is to half fill your water bottle and refill it at work. 

Read also: New study reveals how much weight kids should carry in school trolley backpacks

Eliminate items in your wallet

Reconsider whether to bring things like extra credit cards and coins as you won’t need them on a daily basis. A smaller wallet with one debit card, some emergency cash, ID and your travel card will probably be enough. 

E-wallets might come in handy as well. 

Backpacks over tote bags

Bags with only one strap can hinder your spine’s alignment, causing soreness in your shoulder. Backpacks are your best choice. Two straps distribute equal weight on your shoulders and support your lumbar area. Larger straps also maximize comfort. 

Also go for lightweight fabrics, like neoprene or canvas. Some fabrics like leather are heavier than others and will contribute to your total weight, which we want to keep under 1.3 kg. 

Aim for a straight back 

Carrying the bag too high up can pinch muscles, but too low can lead to poor distribution of weight.

“The top of the backpack should line up with the top of the shoulder blades,” Fischer explains. 

Arranging your heavy items evenly between the left and right side can further maintain equal weight distribution.

Stretch it out

After a long day, find time to stretch and do a spinal twist. This can protect your back muscles from soreness and painful cramps.

“Five minutes at the end of day would do a lot for your tension,” Fischer says. (vel/kes)

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