When it comes to purses, less can truly be more, and choosing the right one can eliminate unneeded back, shoulder and neck pain. Additionally, the way you carry a bag can make a difference. When you carry a heavy bag with a strap on only one shoulder, it can change the balance in your body and cause pain.

Even if you choose a backpack style, it’s important to wear it properly or it can change your gait. Adjusting the straps so it is carried as high on the back as possible is best. The top of the bag should be level with the big bone you can feel at the lowest part of your neck.

Below are more tips to protect your spine from a heavy bag:

  • Focus on good posture with shoulders relaxed, back, and down, and don’t leaning to one side
  • Strengthen your core (abdominal and back muscles) and shoulders with exercise
  • Choose the smallest bag you can
  • Don’t carry anything but the essentials
  • Choose a cross-body bag with a long, wide strap that will distribute weight more even, or switch the strap frequently from one shoulder to the other, or use a backpack style
  • Place heavier items at the bottom of the bag to maintain the center of gravity
  • Keep the bag close to your body to reduce sway and stress
  • Use separate bags for different purposes such as a gym bag or computer bag and consider a wheeled bag for heavy items
  • Weigh it and keep the maximum amount between 5-10% of your bodyweight
  • Vary the bags you carry to help avoid overuse injuries

Remember, in order to carry that heavy purse, the upper back which stabilize your shoulder blade must counterbalance the weight until eventually it can be overworked. The purse can pull on the web of nerves and cause aching or shooting pain from your neck and radiating down your arm.
Taking a break by carrying only a small handheld purse or wallet and applying ice may help, but if the pain continues, if may be time to consult an orthopedic doctor.

At Spine & Orthopedic Center we can examine you and suggest a treatment plan, in addition to offering advice on an ergonomic-style bag, which can help prevent future injury. If you have been experiencing pain from a heavy handbag, please call or visit us at Spine & Orthopedic Center today.