What Is Weighing You Down?
By Sonya Thigpen PTA, ATC
What is Weighing You Down? Could it be your Purse?
As the fashion trends for purses and bags get more and more oversized so do the amount of items that we carry in them. For most of us, our bag is our home away from home. We have wallets, day planners, sunglasses, cell phones, MP3 Players, cameras, not to mention makeup, kids’ toys, lunch and other essentials. When carried on the same side all of the time, this heavy load can pull on your neck and shoulder leaving you in a very unnatural position. If you are continually pulling your neck to one side, you compromise the position of your shoulder which can place a strain on the muscles and nerves that run from the neck and into the shoulder. This can lead to headaches, poor posture, shoulder strains, neck spasms, and even difficulty sleeping due to pain. Carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder can also leave you unbalanced when you stand or are walking which might ultimately lead to falls, or lower extremity injuries.
If you don’t want to sacrifice fashion or convenience for health, don’t worry.
Here are five simple tools you can use to prevent unnecessary injury or pain.
- Step on the scale. Weigh your purse. You will probably be surprised to see how much it weighs. The average bag weighs 7-10 pounds. It is recommended that your purse (and its contents) weigh NO MORE than 10% of your body weight. If your purse weighs 5 pounds empty, you are already off to a bad start! Look for purses made of durable yet lightweight material.
- Long and lean is out. Look for purses with shorter, sturdy handles. Long, skinny straps can cause you to lean to the side putting your body in a “C” shape. Long straps can also slip a lot which will make you more likely to shrug your shoulder to keep your purse from falling off.
- Find your center. If you chose to wear a purse over one shoulder make sure it falls close to your center of gravity. This is typically close to your waist; if you are petite it will be higher.
- Compartmentalize. Use the compartments inside your purse! Items that are kept stable inside a compartment won’t be able to shift inside your purse which will keep you more balanced. Also, the less you have to search for items in your purse, the less time you will spend distorting your upper body looking for them.
- Prioritize. Clean out your wallet. Remove loose change, credit cards that you don’t use all the time and receipts. Carry only what you NEED with you. Use travel size make up, lotions, etc. Use a separate tote bag for extra items that you don’t need all the time like your lunch, water and kids toys and carry this on your opposite shoulder to balance yourself out.
Please call JOI-2000 if you want to schedule an appointment with a JOI Physician.