12 May, 2017
A survey by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia found that the average handbag weighs 3.6kg and majority of the time this heavy load is placed over one shoulder.
When one shoulder has a heavy load, whether it's a handbag, school backpack or a laptop bag, your body will react. Your shoulder joint is jammed down restricting its movement and your shoulder muscles tighten up pulling on your neck and upper back joints.
This can cause or aggravate:
- Stiff and sore neck and shoulders
- Shoulder injuries
- Nerve damage
- Build up towards joint degeneration in the shoulders and spine
How can you reduce the damage?
There are two main ways to reduce the aches and pains caused by your handbag:
- Wear the bag appropriately; and / or
- Decrease the weight of the bag.
Where possible, backpacks are a great solution. They evenly distribute the load of the bag across both shoulders. Compared to a single-shoulder handbag, backpacks significantly decrease tension across the shoulders and neck.
Backpacks should be fitted properly with the heavy objects placed closer to the spine and both shoulder straps tightly adjusted.
If a backpack doesn’t match your outfit then make sure that your handbag is light in weight (tips below). Carry a separate bag for heavy items such as your laptop. This secondary bag should be held on the opposite side to even up the load.
Lighten the load
I know it's important to have a Mary Poppins bag because we never know what the day will bring and what Melbourne’s weather will do. So how then do we lighten the load?
One quick and easy solution is to use an app like Stocard. Stocard is a free app which keeps a photo of your loyalty cards’ barcodes. It can be a little slow to use but it's a great way to lighten the load of your purse.
A gradual change you can make is to remove one item a day from your bag. Initially it'll seem easy; how did you end up with five lipsticks, two packs of tissues and seven pens? Once all those double ups are gone, it becomes a bit trickier. Stick with it until you are left with your bare necessities.
When you are waiting at the bus stop, in a waiting room or for your brunch buddy to arrive, clean out your purse of all those receipts. They build up and although they don't contribute to much weight, every little bit counts. Decluttering also has strong implications on calming our busy minds.
About the author:
Dr Cassie (Chiropractor) is experienced in treating shoulder injuries as well as spinal concerns. Cassie provides a holistic approach to pain relief including adjustments, joint mobilisations, massage, rehab exercises and natural ‘pain killer’ supplements.