We all have that one bag we carry around that has all the essentials and then some, just loading up weight we shouldn’t have to lug around. Don’t worry; there is no need to justify yourself for having a bulky bag! I’m guilty for having that extra granola bar or the mountain of receipts. Sometimes we try to blame the pains on other activities, like gardening or your horrible office chair. It’s not long before we start having some or most of the following symptoms:
- Bad posture
- Spasms in our muscles
- Neck and back pain
- Nerve pain
- Tendinitis in the elbow
- Tingling or numbness
Half the time it’s hard to figure out what is causing the problem. We don’t realize that simple things like strap size or how we carry the purse can wreak havoc on our body! One simply way to help prevent bad posture is to keep your abs tight and have your shoulder blades back and down. This way it will keep your body mass be more centered. This is also helps engage your “core” muscles so your joints don’t end up so overworked. It’s also a good idea to look for bags with a decent width of a strap. These wide straps distribute the weight in your pack across the surface area of your shoulder and won’t dig in as much.
It may seem like it’s just your muscles that hurt from our over loaded purse, but in reality it’s hurting your tendons, nerves, ligaments and joints too! The more junk we load up into these bags, the more trouble we cause ourselves. It doesn’t help having a big pack that’s so easy to fill with our lunches, water bottles, a book or two, and even a laptop when necessary! If you do need to carry a lot of little things, use a handbag that has a few more compartments because then at least the weight is spread out a bit more than one big pocket and when possible, use a double strapped back-pack to help distribute the weight.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Regular shoulder and neck exercise:
If you want to have less pain in your neck or shoulders, it’s a good idea to strengthen your muscles. Keeping your shoulder blades down and back when you are walking can do this. This will stabilize these areas and allow for better posture as well.
- Wear a back-pack when possible:
Having more than one strap will allow for the weight to be carried on two spots, not just one. It also allows for more things to be packed without hurting your arms as much.
- Wear the strap across your body:
The further you keep the bag away from your body, the more it’s going to pull your body out of alignment and force your muscles to tighten so it can correct itself. When you have the strap going diagonally, your body has less compensation to do! In addition, it won’t feel like your purse will slip off your body all the time.
- Switch it up:
When you wear your bag only on one side, the opposite muscles won’t be as strong. The create an imbalance in muscle strength. If you can change which side you’re holding your bag on, even if it’s every few minutes, you will see a drastic change in how your muscles are working.
- Avoid the elbow crook:
I know I tend to hold my purses in the crook of my arm, just like many other people. It may feel comfortable, however it’s the easiest way to get tendinitis! The structure of the elbow is not meant for hauling a lot of weight for long periods of time. To save your arm, just hold the bag by the strap and let it dangle.
If you use any of these tips, you will notice quite a difference in how your body feels! Once you become more aware of what dreadful things your purse is doing to your back, shoulders and neck, you may want to invest in a good purse that will be much better for your health.
Here are a few more things to think over:
- The Fanny Pack – as dorky as you may think it could be, the fanny pack is actually a really good way to store only the essentials and to keep you shoulders pain free. Because it has a much smaller space, you won’t be able to weigh yourself down!
- Painless straps – if you’re in love with a purse but the strap really digs into your shoulder, there is a solution! You can buy soft cushions to pad the strap for when it’s digging into you.
- Watch the fabric – when you’re shopping for a new bag, it’s a good idea to keep in mind what kind material it’s made out of. A leather purse will be much heavier than a cloth or nylon one, even when it’s empty!
- Stay away from added clutter – is your health really worth having those tassels or buckles that’s just added weight? I mean they can make the purse look super cute, but it’s yet another thing you don’t need to carry.
If you suffer any aches or pains, Dr. Mir would be more than happy to help you! She has the knowledge to describe how a purse can damage all the parts of your shoulders and neck. Of course, she has the tools and treatments to take care of any pain that’s brought on because of our choices of bags!