Is your handbag causing you back pain?

Is a heavy bag bad for your spine or are you just carrying it the wrong way, asks @Petabee The Times 28th May 2019

We hear all these comments:
if your tote is too heavy it can affect your gait, don’t carry a holdall in the  crook of your arm…
But are they right?

Peta Bee admits hers is stuffed with everything from sunglasses, keys, newspapers, water, various items the kids have given to her to carry that have never found their way out… and this doesn’t include her phone, phone charger, bike lock & gym kit!

A recent survey of 1,000 women by Aspinal of London has revealed that UK women typically carry 17 items with them daily. Peta Bee used Aspinal’s online handbag calculator (yes, there really is such a thing), and her bag clocks in at 4.5kg, add gym kit and it can be an extra 1.8kg, making it more like the weight of a three-month-old baby!

But experts now think it is not a bag’s weight that’s problematic as much as how (and how often) we carry it…. provided you are strong enough to carry it, even the heaviest handbag will do no harm. Our very own Matt Todman shares his supported view:

“The relationship between carrying a large, heavy bag and it causing pain is now considered mythical rather than real and there are plenty of clinical studies support this.”

When it comes to the best type of bag for your back, there are no clear rules. “Anything which is symmetrical is generally better if you have existing back ache, because it prevents you from becoming lopsided due to the weight of the bag being distributed on one side of the body only,” Todman says. “If your back hurts then using a backpack over both shoulders and used with a hip belt fastening will help to direct the load through the hips and not towards the painful bit of your back.”

To be honest everything seems logical when you think about it:

“The nearer you keep a bag to the centre of your mass, the more control you have of it…If you want to improve your strength, resilience and endurance and reduce your risk of problems, carrying different bags containing little and often at the start and slowly increasing the weight is the best way forward. That’s what we would call a perfect loading strategy.”

Find one that feels comfortable and don’t feel guilty about using it.

Read the full article in The Times to see Peta Bee’s Do’s & Don’ts

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