Written for Shoulder1 by Sarah Mahmood
Ladies, are your shoulders killing you? The villain might be your trendy, oversized handbag.
Your bag can fit everything - your makeup, umbrella, medicine, snacks, books, laptop, cell phone, and wallet - but that isn’t as beneficial as you might think. While wanting to always be prepared for the worst-case scenario is understandable, being over-prepared can have unintended and more damaging consequences.
Chiropractors in the United States have reported that purse-related injuries have risen in the past few years. According to the American Chiropractic Association, heavy purses restrict the natural movements of your body, causing the unnatural counterbalance movement of one shoulder. It may also result in your spine curving towards the shoulder. Using your cell phone can make this even worse, as it becomes one more item you have to balance.
Since the shoulder holding the heavy bag is raised and rotated backwards the whole time, your upper back, shoulder, and spine muscles become fatigued and spasm. The other side of your body will lean away from the bag, compressing and tiring your vertebrae. These responses can result in arthritis in the facet joints, disc degeneration, and prolapse. Not only will it be painful, but it may also require surgery.
You can pursue several alternatives to your oversized bag. Livestrong suggests cross-body bags, which have a long strap connected to a small tote. You wear it over your head and across your body, allowing for even weight distribution. You can also carry two bags, one to hold in your hand and another to hang on your shoulder. Satchels are also a viable option, as they prevent shoulder drag and spine curvature by keeping most of the weight near the straps.
But if you insist on wearing your old purse, follow these tips to avoid agonizing consequences:
- Don’t wear bags that weigh over 10% of your body weight
- Remove unnecessary items from your handbags
- Choose bags made of lightweight material like nylon or soft leather
- Switch sides frequently so one shoulder isn’t burdened with the load
- Wear bags with straps that are at least 1.5 inches wide. Narrow straps can dig into your shoulder.
- Have weekly massages, stretch regularly, and take warm baths with Epsom salts
- If your bag has long straps, adjust it so that it rests at your waist
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Photo by Lee Bailey