Yes, you read that right—your purse can cause plenty of back pain. Of course we don’t mean that your evening clutch will bring on damaging muscle spasms. But a heavy shoulder bag can. In fact, your risk of injury increases with the weight of your purse.
It all comes down to physics. If your purse is too heavy, it will place extra pressure on your shoulder and neck muscles, leading to tension headaches and worse all the way down the back. And it’s not just a purse problem—men carry bags too.
But I need to be prepared!
Sure, you want to be prepared for everything from an accident to a sugar crash, but why don’t you check out what all that extra weight does to your back and see if you still need it.
- Increased risk of scoliosis (curved spine) in those with weak bones
- Tension headaches
- Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease in shoulders predisposed
- Upper back and neck strain
- Tingling and numbness in the arm
- Muscle spasms from unbalanced weight
- Stiff neck muscles that lead to arthritis
Carrying a heavy bag over one shoulder—especially the same shoulder every time—causes your gait, or balance, to be thrown off, forcing muscles not designed for it to compensate. Such undue strain only makes things worse, and this article details even more ways that heavy bags affect he spine. But there are ways to reduce the load and still have what you need.
Being Prepared, Lightly
How do you go light but still have it all? First of all, if you live in rural areas or cities lacking public transit systems, you probably often ride in a car. Use it. Try to put things you don’t need all the time in one big bag that stays in the car, and put only what you need for your current activity in the purse. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to never carry more than 10% of your body weight, and some doctors recommend no more than 5 pounds with a purse. Not sure what weight you have? Go put it in the bathroom scale.
Now that you know how heavy your day bag should be, consider the following points. Look for bags with wide straps, because these will distribute the weight better and protect the shoulder nerves. Periodically switch shoulders to even out the weight. Another great idea is to switch to a smaller purse. If it’s not big, you can’t fill it up beyond what is healthy. And if these strategies don’t work, check out these exercises to strengthen your muscles, or this article with even more ideas on how to displace the weight your purse is causing.
How heavy is your purse?
Heavy purses, or day bags, will eventually cause damage to your back if you don’t change your carrying habits. Even minimal changes can make things better, perhaps even prevent a headache.
That being said, what are you doing to keep your purse from straining your back? Your input will allow other readers to see that they are not alone, even encourage them to make changes. If you are reducing your daily load, what things do you find you can’t do without? Which items are best left in the car? We will be sure to answer your comment, so leave one now.