December 5, 2023


Thousands of students walk the school’s hallways carrying everything but the kitchen sink on their backs. No wonder they complain of back pain.
Their backpacks are stuffed full of textbooks, binders and even a laptop, causing neck problems.

Michael Eltervoog, a part-time chiropractor at Conestoga, said when students have their backpacks loaded down their neck, head, lower and upper back and shoulders are overworked.

“You start leaning forward and the more the posture comes forward the more muscular activity you need to use to fight gravity,” Eltervoog said.

The ideal backpacks, he said, were ones with shoulder padding and separate compartments. Laptops should be in their own compartment so they don’t slide around in the backpack. He also said backpacks should be worn the correct way, using both straps and not hanging off one shoulder. Another bag he said was good to use was one with wheels.

“I don’t wear backpacks anymore, primarily because it hurt too much,” said Chloe Skowron, a second-year graphic design student. “I use my little tote bag and then carry the big things because it was just too much strain.”

Eltervoog said students should pack their backpacks with the heaviest things, like a laptop, against their back so it keeps the students back more balanced when they do have to carry a lot.
To help with neck or back pain, students could try doing a couple of stretches. If working at the computer, taking a five-minute break every half hour or so could also prevent the neck and shoulders from straining.

Some people are nervous going to a chiropractor because of the media’s depiction of getting a chiropractic adjustment. In movies, when a character is at the chiropractor, the positions the patients are in look uncomfortable and the cracking noise that they make sounds terrifying to some people.

“The cracking sound is from the fluid in the joints, it’s not the bones rubbing together. There is a pressure change in the joint and gas bubbles form and collapse giving that popping sound,” said Eltervoog.

Eltervoog uses the traditional chiropractic methods, but there is another method where an activator is used. An activator looks similar in shape to a needle but with a rubber nub at the end and it is used to press on certain spots on the body, delivering a gentle, low-force impulse.

Students who never have been to a chiropractor before can try out ones who use different methods to find the right practitioner.
By practicing proper posture, lifting heavy items carefully and being careful not to strain your back, you can prevent back pain and all the problems that come with it.

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