Do shoulder bags / handbags cause back pain?

Can handbags and shoulder bags cause back pain?  No doubt about it!  She may be smiling now, but when the young woman in the picture gets home she’ll find her shoulder is killing her, and in a few months time it’ll be her lower back.  Here’s why…

Most of us aren’t built to carry loads

Are you a shire horse?  No.  Do you need to carry heavy loads for a living?  No?  Well, if noone is paying you to carry half the contents of your house around on your shoulder, why do it?  Carrying heavy loads on your shoulder (or in your hand) is akin to the fetching and carrying that our grandmother’s grandmothers would have done – “Jack and Jill went up the hill, To fetch a pail of water”, and look how that ended!jack and jill

Lighten the load

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have “paid help” (and public liability insurance) to follow you around, get rid of some of that stuff!

Get a “fashionable” rucksack

One of my patients just last week bought herself a lovely faux-leather rucksack to replace the monstrous shoulder bag she’d been lugging around.  I was very proud of her, stepping outside her fashion comfort-zone.  And what a result – it’s made an immediate difference to her shoulder pain.  fashionable rucksackI am no fashionista (my wife and kids will confirm this), but I’m reliably informed that it is possible to find rucksacks that won’t make you look like you had a bang to the head that’s made you believe you’re a schoolgirl again.  Check out the pic…

Wear it on both shoulders

There’s no point having two shoulder straps, but only using one; that’s like being born with two legs, but choosing to hop everywhere – very Monty Python.  Your body can only put up with that kind of treatment for so long!

Get checked out

We’ve been doing more and more digital postural assessments lately, and finding that lots of you are lop-sided.  This makes carrying anything a little bit more hazardous, as you’re already distributing the load badly.  A bit of postural re-education and appropriate exercises can make a huge difference.

gavin@active-x.co.uk

About the Author:

Clinic Director and Osteopath. Gavin graduated as a Gold Medallist in 1991 and is now a Vice Patron of the British School of Osteopathy. Co-author of “The Back Book” with Gavin Hastings OBE in 1996, and author of "active X backs - and effective solution for lower back pain"; he has an MSc in The Clinical Management of Pain from the University of Edinburgh. He's passionate about helping to move people as far from illness and pain as possible, and in January 2015 set himself the target of helping a million people get a better back.

2 Comments

  1. Kath 13/04/2015 at 14:48 - Reply

    Yes I have had to change my bags choices now to across the body type when out walking around!

    • Gavin Routledge 14/04/2015 at 07:12 - Reply

      😉 That’s a good thing. Know your limitations, and gradually build up from there.

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