Is Your Purse The Secret Cause Of Your Back Pain?

Does fashion have to be painful? In the case of purses and handbags, it often is. If, by the end of a long day schlepping your bag, you feel any of the following, it’s time to seriously re-evaluate your handbag situation:

  • Neck pain and stiffness from shoulder and neck muscles being pulled to one side constantly
  • Shoulder pain: some people even have blood blisters or bruising on the shoulder where the strap sits
  • Back pain from hours of uneven bag hoisting
  • Uneven walking stride from imbalanced bag weight, which can hurt back, knees, hips and feet
  • Elbow pain

If that seems like you at the end of a long purse-toting day, try these four posture-friendly purse tips:

  1. Wear Crossbody Styles — With Caution
    Crossbody messenger bags can be a better ergonomic fashion choice than the one-shoulder versions, but don’t overload them. The more you carry, the more twisting pressure your spine has to endure. A light, small-sized messenger bag is a great choice for a purse, as long as you’re not loading it with an entire change of clothes and your kids’ 15 favorite books and toys. Keep it small and simple and you’re good to go. If you’re not sure if your messenger bag is too heavy, bring it to your chiropractor, loaded the way you normally do, for an evaluation and suggestions.
  1. Wheels Over Totes
    We love how much we can stuff into those awesome totes, but our backs do not. If you must take a change of clothes, makeup kit, etc., consider a wheeled bag instead. This goes for a crosstown shopping trip as well as airport hopping. Wheeled shopping bags are all the rage in Europe; everyone uses them, and their backs are grateful.
  1. Unburden Yourself
    Be honest: Must you really carry all the items in that bag? Make a point of going through your purse or bag each week and removing what you don’t use regularly. If you’re not using it, you don’t need to carry it. Simplify, simplify, simplify! If you can reduce the amount you carry, you may be able to get the essentials into a small clutch, crossbody purse or messenger bag that doesn’t strain your back.
  1. Backpacks Are Recommended
    If you’re someone who needs to carry quite a few things (even if you’re not a college student dragging a laptop, gym shoes and lunch with you everywhere you go) the fashion authorities have been designing hip, jazzy little backpacks with all the style perks and fewer posture problems. As long as you wear the backpack close to the body and the straps are wide, so they don’t dig into your shoulders, a backpack is a smart purse choice.

Just be sure not to sling it over one shoulder only (a bad habit we’ve seen frequently). Use both straps so the weight is distributed evenly on your back and between your shoulders.

Fashion Does Not Have to Hurt

No must-have handbag is really worth your health, so make sure to evaluate how you feel after a long day of toting your purse. If your neck, back, elbow, shoulder or other joints don’t feel right, unload the non-necessities and consider a more ergonomic bag style. If you have questions about your bag or how to wear it better, stop by your chiropractor’s office and ask for a consultation and some ideas on more posture-friendly purse wearing.