Take a Load Off!

big handbagTake a Load Off!

I am convinced that we humans have become modern day pack mules. Not only are our vehicles brimming with “stuff”, but we make it a common practice to haul around an armload (or two) of “supplies” wherever we go—just in case. As a result, women’s handbags, students’ backpacks, and working peoples’ briefcases have had to grow in size in order to contain the large inventory we must lug!

As a physical therapist, I often find myself educating patients with neck, back, shoulder, arm, or hand pain to carry less, and to carry smarter. Today there are so many fashionable options for men, women, and students which enable us all to look well while carrying smart—we’d be physically foolish not to take advantage of them.

Parents of backpack wearers—lend me your ear. To avoid unbalanced forces on your children’s developing spines, they should use both straps of their backpack to evenly distribute the weight of their load. Secondly, because backpacks tend to make the wearer slump forward under their weight, an even better option is a messenger bag—with a long strap that is worn diagonally across the trunk. (My son LOVES his messenger book bag and the “swag” it gives him!)

Ladies, handbags were originally meant to be minimalistic totes, not a form of everyday luggage. Downsize the number of items you carry, and put all those other “must haves” into a separate “car bag” which stays in your car. My suggestion is to purchase a cross-body handbag. It will free your hand from excessive grasping, or your shoulder from having to hike up to your ear to maintain its position on your shoulder. Additionally, it distributes the weight of the bag across your midsection, decreasing the strain on your spine.

Lastly, if you use a briefcase, consider either a rolling briefcase (my personal favorite) or purchase a case with a messenger bag-type strap. Make sure you run the strap diagonally across your trunk as described in the handbag paragraph above.

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