Your daily handbag could be the root of all your back pain
We’re all guilty of carrying big bags and filling them up with a million things we don’t need – hence the phrase “everything but the kitchen sink” – but it’s time to reconsider what you’re lugging around every day.
Evidence has found the weight, and style, of your bag can really effect your neck and back.
Jo Murphy, Senior musculoskeletal physiotherapist at The Yorkshire Clinic, told us: “Carrying heavy bags can definitely be an aggravating, and even a causative, factor in many back, neck or shoulder problems.
“Any extra load carried in any way will result in more pressure being exerted through the joints and discs of the spine and this becomes more of an issue the longer the load is applied.”
In terms of styles of bags “single shoulder bags are the worst” due to how they sit on the body. As the bag sits on one shoulder it pulls the neck and shoulder down at that side, causing problems.
“Single shoulder bags also tend to make the wearer lift the shoulder to keep it in place which can lead to increased tension in the trapezius muscle across the neck and shoulder,” Jo explains.
Carrying bags constantly on the same side, as most people do, can also cause repetitive strain injuries.
“Cross body bags or rucksacks are better as they distribute the weight more evenly, but should still not be too heavy,” Jo advises. Any type of bag will ultimately result in some type of pain or injury if it’s to heavy or used often.
But we’re not saying put down your most-loved bags forever, there are things you can do to help yourself.
“I regularly pick up clients bags to see how heavy they are and am very often shocked by the weight.”
Unfortunately, there are no official guidelines to how heavy a bag should be but “advice is to carry as little as possible for your needs for each day and empty bags out regularly. Smaller bags are a good idea as you can only put so much in them.”
There are other options too: try pull-along cabin bags or channel granny chic with an old fashion trolley bag.
We might have a (weirdly) close relationship with our bags and find it hard to let go of our big satchels and totes, but we gotta look after our bodies.
Here are our five top tips to help you out:
- Empty your bag after each day – this may be a mundane task, but it will stop your bag getting full of surplus stuff. You know, old receipts, six lipsticks, un-used pens, we’re all guilty of having this unnecessary crap floating around.
- Have a pouch of bag essentials – fill a small (emphasis on small) make-up bag or pouch with handbag essentials, like a pack of tissues, a lipbalm, a nude lipstick, a couple of bobbles and a bit of loose change. This way you’ll have everything you need for the day, and can easily swap between bags, so won’t find yourself chucking stuff in last minute. Just add your purse and phone and your good to go.
- Swap your purse for a card holder – this will force you to downsize and carry less. Trust us, you don’t need that loyalty card for that coffee shop you don’t even go to anymore. Better yet, set up Apple Pay and you don’t even need any cash or cards.
- Get a good sized cross body bag – if you have a cross body bag you love then you’ll have no problem using it every day. And you’re back will thank you for it.
- Be cautious – pay attention to your body. If you feel like your bag is too heavy, it probably is.