1.Switch bags often.  This way your body isn’t maintaining a bad structural habit day after day.

2.Stabilize your core and bend your knees when lifting anything, even your bag.

3.Carry two smaller bags instead of one large one.

4.Practice Yoga Tune Up® joint mobilization and stabilization exercises, such as the Pranic Bath, Shoulder Circles, Shoulder Flossing Variations 1 and 2, Epaulet Arm Circles, Long Head of Triceps Arms, and Matador Circles, just to name a few.

5.Use Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to soothe and restore slide and glide to aching muscles (try the exercise in the video below).

Many of the exercises on the Yoga Tune Up® Quickfix Rx: Upper Back Series DVD can help restore, stabilize, and provide pain relief for the upper back, neck, and shoulder muscles.

So the question is:

Will you be a Fashionista or a Fascianista?

One honors fashion, often at the expense of structural integrity; the other honors FASCIA (the soft fibrous connective tissue that is the aqueous scaffolding of our structure) at the expense of fashion.

Discover solutions for shoulder pain.

Learn about our Therapy Ball Programs

Watch our free Quickfix videos.

Dinneen Viggiano

An experienced Therapeutic Movement & Back Pain Specialist with 18 years’ experience, Dinneen offers classes, workshops, trainings and online programming to optimize nutrition, improve mobility and Retrain Back Pain®. As a Senior Teacher Trainer for Tune Up Fitness® & Roll Model® Method, Dinneen travels the globe leading professional trainings. She is also a NeuroKinetic & CranioSacral Therapist and a Certified Health and Nutrition Counselor. www.dinneenviggiano.com

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Great video! I will definitely incorporate this exercise into my repertoire. I also love the tips. With carrying my bags always over my right shoulder, I have realized that my left shoulder became unable to hold a bag, as it will simply slide down. We have to maintain a balanced body, strengthening and mobilizing our left and right side to equal extents.


I laughed out loud when I read the title. As a mom, my friends and I end up carrying the heaviest bags in the world loaded with water, snacks, sunscreen, back up clothes, wipes, hand sanitizer and anything else a small person may need. We give up the cuter shoulder bag and go for the dorkier looking backpack because we begin to notice that one of our shoulders appears permanently depressed while slightly rotating our spine. We think it will make things better. Unfortunately, the comfort of the equal distribution of weight only causes us to throw a few more… Read more »

Sofia Zinovyev

It is amazing how much weight we bare on our shoulders. As yoga instructors we carry our giant duffel bags filled to the brim with yoga clothes, straps, books, laptop, etc… I have recently given up one strap shoulders and opted for a backpack, although that is not necessarily the best solution. I find the matador circles to be an accessible and practical way of strengthening the muscles of the rotators cuff and deltoids, instead of having to use hand weights , Thanks for the tips!


I always try to share with friends and students how long term compression from purse wielding can really mess with your neck and shoulders. Thanks for the tips!

Amanda M

I carry a backpack because I found that carrying a handbag on one shoulder was doing something funky to my back and not in a good way. But what I was interested in was the simplicity and effectiveness of the matodor circles. The simple movement seemed to activate muscles I hadn’t felt in a while. Which made me perhaps instead of ditching the handbag – i should restore, soothe and stabilise my neck, upper back and shoulder muscles. Alternatively I can just purchase a more fashionable backpack.

Michele Klink

I love this comparison Fashionista or a Fascianista? I have been learning more and more about Fascia and how important it is to massage these tissues. I love the Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls. I feel how much they relax tight contracted upper back and rotator cuff muscle plus improves blood and lymphatic circulation. I use my arms and upper body often for my work so to have a juicy freedom in my shoulder joints makes a big difference. Oh, as for Fashionista, I have always preferred those little wrist clutch purses. Next to learn about a Yoga Tune Up… Read more »

mimi martel

For the last 10 years I simplify my bag to end up with just a wallet …. I feel so free (with this neat leather wallet with IPhone pocket included) it save me a lot of worry (no point card , no change, no extra “shop” credit card ) just the essential ! Now that I will be a mother soon I might have to readjust to the needs ahead. backpack might be a solution with a great awareness to my core stabilisation (min. 20% at any time) to avoid internal rotation of my shoulders or hyper extension of my… Read more »


Carrying things is an often overlooked, wonderful way to exercise. When viewed as exercise, with as much mindfulness as you’d put into any other form, carrying a bag (or groceries, or the garbage, etc) can be great! It’s important to consciously and evenly use our muscles rather than depending on momentum or slipping into our joints. Thanks for the great tips on how to make that happen!

Peggy Sue Honeyman-Scott

Thanks for the reminder. Now if we can just get this posted in Vogue magazine! My daughter lives in high heels and a big heavy purse on her right elbow. I can already see this dis-ease in her spine and shoulders. I’m just glad the clutch is making a comeback. Yoga balls for Christmas!


Great post! I want to be both awesomely fashionable and feeling good. My upper back was killing the other day after too much computer time and kid lugging. I only had time for a 7 minute roll out but it totally healed my burning pain and headache from tension. Now to conquer better postural habits….


I commented on the last post that I am definitely someone who sacrifices fascia for fashion – so sad! I am going to try to make small, positive efforts each day to get me to become more of a fascia-nista! I can’t wait to start with the exercises in the video to help roll out my upper back and shoulders. Thanks for the advice!

Liz Swift

Yep, I am a culprit of carrying a large tote on one shoulder. I was struggling just today on the subway. I am now coming to realize that my headaches might be coming from my tight traps that have been carrying these large bags. I am going to try a backpack and using my new YTU balls to help alleviate some of this tension.

Morgan Ward

My left shoulder always hurts more than my right shoulder, which I learned is because that’s the side I always wear my oversized purse on! I just found an over the shoulder strap that helps sooo much and takes all the tension off of that shoulder. I just have to make sure I switch sides every once in a while so the other shoulder doesn’t start hurting now!


Is there some proportional thing going on here? It seems like the skinnier the girl, the bigger and more numerous the bags. As for me, never a slave to fashion, I plan to stick with my 20 year old 6 x 10 Coach bag,


To think of all the shoulder/hip depression that can be offset by following your steps. I’m recognizing my own habits of Ilia Depression, which arises especially when carrying a heavy bag on one side! Another culprit is toting around heavy yoga mats (ha, counter-intuitive!) I purchased a yoga backpack several years ago – from what I can tell it is working well (hopefully not accounting for any excess spinal extension!)

Bianca Albrecht

Thank you for this tip and reminder! “Will you be a Fashionista or a Fascianista?” made my day – you are so right! I carry heavy bags always only on my right side and had rib- and muscle problems on my left side beginning of this year. Some specific yoga poses really helped to get over it.

Joanne Smith

Thank you for the reminder of what may be one of the culprits of my neck and shoulder discomfort that revisits me every so often. It is the simplest advice that is usually have the most profound affects! I will start to practice the program that you have shared, Thank you!

Nicole Shahida

I feel it’s a question of habits. We all fall into the same habits over and over again. I know that I use the same handbag almost everyday and carry it on the same shoulder every day. It’s important to retrain my body (and thinking) and remind myself that I need to switch shoulders from time to time and vary the sizes of my pocketbooks.

Margo Brooke Pellmar

It’s not even just fashion that makes us carry such burdens onto our shoulders!!! I carry all of my stuff around New York City all day, everyday. When I teach a class acting, singing, or dancing, I’m carrying my props around in one bag and I’m always searching for a release. I usually take to the 10 minute chair massage, but that adds up quickly!!! I’m so excited to have such a practical, simple, and absolutely deep and mindful new way to relieve my shoulder stress away. Also, I’ll be examining two bags, one on each shoulder in order to… Read more »


I always love an excuse to buy more bags! I only have one that I use daily, and it is extremely heavy and causes a lot of issues for me that I’m just starting to tackle. I also need to gain more core strength and this will be another way I can be more aware of how engaged my abdominal muscles are.

Melinda Kausek

These a great tips! Though I have to admit, I felt a little flabbergasted when I read tip number 1 – it is seems so obvious, after reading it, but desperately needs to be incorporated into my life. I have always prided myself on being a simple, light weight purse carrier, but I always use the same one and truth be told, I feel how it is pulling my body in certain directions. So thanks, from a fellow fascianista 🙂

Gillian Mandich

This post really resonated with me – I just got in from carrying a purse around all day – I know It is bad for my posture, but when you need to carry things, you need to carry them!! These are great tips…and I”m going to go roll out on my balls now 🙂


Do we really need to carry all that stuff in our bag? I can completely understand bringing all our books for training and I feel like Quasimodo; as a matter of fact I’ve lost and inch in height from lugging around my giant backpack. Maybe carry less “stuff” maybe a bit more helpful. I’ve seen women carry a curling iron and hairspray inside their handbag. Maybe to add to the shoulders is a massage for the elbow and forearm. The medial, posterior and lateral sides of the elbow I’ve noticed in all of my students are extremely tight when I… Read more »


Thanks for the handy checklist! I have so many bags and many of them make different parts of my shoulders ache.It’s nice to have a reminder and a solution to the pain. And I am tickled at the prospect of being a “Fascianista”, very clever!

Yasmen Mehta

There has to be a law for kids. No kid is allowed to carry a school bag without wheels. I think my daughter carries around a 11 to 12 pounds on her shoulder each day and walks home from school. It kills me to see that, as I know down the road it’s not going to look good. I for one, now carry my stuff on my hips. I let the hips take most of the load and wear a diagnal strap. That helps distribute the load a bit.,

Elissar Hanna

Thank you Dinneen. Much appreciated tips. Reading all of these posts about the shoulders, the importance of warming, working and tenderizing the muscles in and around the shoulder joints is really sinking into my being. Best.

Tracy L

I’ve been doing this with my Tune Ups balls and it’s such a problem area for me and everyone. I’m so thankful for this and the awareness of my own personal habits that can be eradicated to feel better. Thank you for this and the video. I don’t know what I’d do without my Tune Up Balls. I’m no fashionista, but this is so great for self care and to share with others!


Dinneen, thanks for a very informative article. This type of advice will undoubtedly give me more mileage in my shoulders and back for years to come. Thanks!


Dineen, thanks for a very informative article. This type of advice will undoubtedly give me more mileage in my shoulders and back for years to come. Thanks!

Michelle Dalbec

Will you be a Fashionista or a Fascianista? I love the question Dinneen!! I think we can be both. In fact we should all start a trend with you fabulous suggestions. I personally carry 1 way to heavy bag with all my everything I may need. I am feeling the effects and know I need to make a change. With you tips I’m well on my way.

Narcedalia (Nars)

This post was made for me. I’m always carrying my books on my right shoulder- I am not doing that anymore..It looks cool the lululemon bag, but OMG. after walking all day long with it , with books, food, water, and keys,phone, etc…it just not fait to my spine..Im sorry spine,I love u!

Thanks for sharing 🙂

Marla Brackman

Haha! Fascianista all the way! Once you have pain- fashion isn’t as important. Thanks for sharing!

Allison Shapiro

Fantasticnista! I love this simple yet profound advice. Why can’t I seem to be consistent with this. I love my big bag. My shoulder DOES not. I will be more mindful I WILL be more mindful. I WILL BE MORE MINDFUL. Thanks Dinneen. You are a beautiful fascianista with style and precision!


Thanks Dinneen, as a teenager I used to have a very bad posture, and one of my habits was to carrie my backpack in one strap, making my pelvis very unstable. I still can feel the consequences. Parctice this routines will help me to remind myself how important is to take care of my shoulders in order to keep a good posture.

Amanda Joyce

OK, ok, ok…I get it. I like the idea of two smaller bags but I think for this training I just need to dump one of our rollie suitcases to accommodate the heavy books. I need to properly represent my Fascianistaness! Goodness knows other than my heavy tote, I am not a Fashionista by any stretch! 🙂 xo


FASCIA-nista all the way!!! Thanks for this great article Dineen! I am a huge culprit of putting my bags only on my right shoulder and I think its a habit because the seratus anterior is weak and less proprioceptive to the pain and consequently more internally rotated, making for a better hanging place on my not so happy shoulder. But I do think stabilizing the tubular core and switching bags and sides is way better than using a backpack and forcing both shoulders to reinforce counter internal rotation and tightening of the pectoral minor.


These are some very helpful tips and so easy to remember. I would like to find a way to honor fashion and fascia simultaneously:)
I am really looking forward to incorporating these movements into my daily routines. Healthy shoulders and better posture suddenly seem within reach.


I LOVE “Fascianista”, very clever! After I started working my shoulders out more, without the use of self care thrown in, I found my bags to be distructive because I’d be so weak and tired in that already unstable joint. I actually moved towards not carrying one and condensing what I needed to carry into pockets or sling bags. Ever since ball massage, I’ve found less discomfort in carrying my bags even when I have tired shoulders. After reading this I am going to try splitting my stuff into two bags, however. Thanks!


I LOVE “Fascianista”, awesome term! After I started working my shoulders out more, without the use of self care thrown in, I found my bags to be distructive because I’d be so weak and tired in that already unstable joint. I actually moved towards not carrying one and condensing what I needed to carry into pockets or sling bags. Ever since ball massage, I’ve found less discomfort in carrying my bags even when I have tired shoulders. After reading this I am going to try splitting my stuff into two bags, however. Thanks!

Renee holden

I deal with many different ages, in my personal training business. what I do see regularly are shoulder injuries due to women carrying heavy bags over their shoulders, I encourage my clients to change shoulders regularly, or even better yet, leave the large bags at home!
Younger women who go to school are encouraged to wear a backpack that has been properly fitted for their body length!

Do we really need all of the “stuff” that we carry around?I think not!


Dinneen, thank you for these tips. I recently started carrying two bags of equal weight instead of one miserable bag full of books and I can testify that my entire back and shoulder did feel a lot better and I am even less grumpy on the subway!

Jonee Austin

Because we so often carry our purses on the same side – for me the left side – bunions are often larger on the side we carry our purses. The weight of our ever-increasing purses are costing us out of alignment bodies!


I am wondering about the carry two smaller bags instead of one advice….sometimes when I carry two bags I actually find it more annoying on my shoulders and back because they slip off and bump into each and weigh each other down instead of just the one which can be more stable.


This is great. How many times have we all been walking down the street, consciously aware of how much our shoulders hurt but struggling through it anyway? I keep EVERYTHING in my bag, and this is definitely going to help me be more mindful. Can’t wait to use my YTU therapy balls when I finish this post!


Thanks Dinneen! People are always commenting on my massive heavy bags – work clothes, gym clothes, trail guide, water bottle, who knows what else you will find in there. In NY I am almost always walking with it, to the point that when I walk without a bag, it feels strange. Going to try the two smaller bag trick (and not only because this is an excuse to buy another bag!)


Being a fashionista and living in New York and having worked in fashion and the new “IT” bags were not back or shoulder friendly. I used to carry my life in my bag, Walking around with a 12lb bag all the time,I started to get horrible muscle spasms on my upper back. Since then I have been going much lighter on the stuff I carry around and have not had a problem since.

Lulu Gong

Yes! I 100% agree! I used to carry a lot of stuff in a big bag . After I injured my lower back three years ago ( my doctor told me that my injury was due to years of overloading stuff 🙁 Then I started to carry a much smaller bag or a small backpack, which limit the stuff I will bring. And I also started to add Yoga to my daily practice to strengthen my back:). Last few days I’ve learned how to use these magical therapy balls to massage my back muscles during my yoga tune up training… Read more »


When all else fails and you absolutely must use the over sized bag, I often find that switching regularly and consciously from one shoulder to the other can help prevent lopsided-ness and overuse of the dominant shoulder.

Celine Antoine

Great advices Dinneen! I’ve actually been all of these since I discovered the Yoga Tune Up balls.
Having a scoliosis, I actually use my bag to compense my curve.


Great sound advice Dineen. Fashionable or not I have yet to find a bag that doesn’t have my mid -back and shoulders feeling sore and achy at the end of the day… All my research has lead to dead ends. Thank goodness for YTU Balls!