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 advice! For years, I’ve have the habit of carrying my handbag on the same shoulder, which caused uneven shoulders and upper back pain. I tried to switch to smaller bags that I carry in my hands, and now I’ll try to remember switching sides! Comfort and health must come before fashion! Also, this ball massage for the upper back is wonferful to relieve pain and stretch.

Marnie Werner

Fascianista all the way! Dinneen, this is such helpful context for when I teach snow angels and upper back massage on the therapy balls. I taught shoulder flossing variation 1 and matador circles the other day, and next time I will most surely mention handbag carrying as a reason we are doing these exercises! Switching bags often makes a lot of sense, too. Carrying the same heavy bag on the same shoulder year after year doesn’t make sense for maintaining structural integrity at all, so true!

Mel C Russo

Great reminder to switch sides or even carry two bags. I’m convinced my uneven shoulders are the result of years of carrying a heavy bag on one side while walking and taking the subway. I’m curious if this is the case with people outside of cities who use their car back seat as an extension of their purse! 🙂

Michelle Mucci

This spoke to me because of the baggage I was carrying today to TT class i should have paired down to two bags. I compromised shoulder stability as well as hip alignment.

Maria del carmen restrepo

Sometimes we need a reminder of the habits we have and often we’re not even aware of what we are doing; like carrying a big purse all day on one side only. How we use and abuse our body until we get injuries. Time for new and healthier habits, time to be mindful and kind to our body. Very nice article, thanks


Such a good reminder. I remember always switching which side I would carry my daughter in when she was still in the car seat carrier. Right side leaving the house left side returning!

Kate Clark

I always point out to my huge-purse-toting clients that that’s the source of many of the shoulder/neck/upper back issues we just worked out on the massage table, but they don’t regard carrying less as an option. This is a great set of tips and self-care ideas I can offer them — THANK YOU!!


It’s crazy how easy it is to cause injuries our bodies and yet how easy it is to prevent them. I had 3 months of physical therapy earlier this year, and one of the first things the PT asked me to do was to ditch the big purse. So now my purse is only big enough for sunglasses, wallet and chapstick. I love the fall because I love pockets, and it’s easy to wear a jacket with pockets! I really appreciate the reminder of Practicing Yoga Tune Up. I’m going to write this down on my Yoga journal for immediate… Read more »

Ashley Burger

Living in NYC we always have tons of stuff to schlep around! I already have been switching sides often and always talk to my students about doing so in the repatterning this can do to your body. I also have been practicing #1 without intentions. I have different bags for my different jobs and end up rotating 3 throughout the week. Now that I am thinking about it, it would be more beneficial to have different types of bags, with different straps and such!

Angela Yonkovich

Hi Dineen!

At work so many people come in with heavy handbags and they are already having pain! I too can benefit from these pointers as I tend to carry a library in my backpack. The tip of carrying two handbags will be accessible to our patients. I love the “Fashionista or Fascianista” will have to steal and share! Thank you!

Jess Blake

Reading this post is well timed as I have been schlepping 2 heavy bags back and forth from YogaTuneUp TT for the past few days. Perhaps I don’t need that third text book today? While one of my bags is a backpack, it’s a cheap one with no chest strap, and my other bag is a large tote. I carry the tote by the strap in my hand and am mindful to engage some shoulder elevators so that the weight doesn’t pull my shoulder into depression. But, it’s hard to be mindful all the time, especially when hurrying to and… Read more »


Thanks for this, Dinneen! I have chronic tight shoulders (who doesn’t!) and it was so bad that my fingers in my right arm went numb even from simple things such as holding a fork to eat. I went to see my osteopath who suggested that I carry a backpack instead of a bag that only carried on one side f my shoulder. And a chest strap and hip strap are important in distributing the weight of the bag as well. So when I’m travelling or carrying anything heavy (such as heavy books to a yoga training!), I use a backpack… Read more »


This reminds me of a Katy Bowman analogy using pumpkins to describe load profiles. She illustrates many ways that someone could carry thirteen pounds of pumpkins. Each load variance creates a unique cellular deformation. Handbags are much more fashion forward than pumpkins, but wouldn’t it be fabulous to see some fashionista carrying her huge handbag on her head for load variance (joking!).

Nina Watson

Great article with very useful tips! While traveling I tend to use one very heavy handbag. So will divide it between 2 bags.
Also use the YTU balls to release tight and painful areas.


I love these tips! After reading your last article, I had to check this one out to see what you came up with. I love the idea of carrying two smaller bags instead of one larger and of switching bags often. I will also be incorporating my favorite Yoga Tune Up® shoulder stabilizing poses before and after carrying — what a great idea! I just can’t wait to see the looks I get when I do my pranic bath at the coffee shops 😉


Hi Dinneen,
Great tips, hopefully my Mom knew about that before, couple of years ago she became injured because of her bag; her shoulder was in pain, and she must go to rehab. It’s important to be aware of our daily habits.
My Mom is not a fashion person but now she becomes a fascian person while using the YTU balls


Hi Dineen,
Love the tips! I’m glad I’m learning all these shoulder stabilization and mobilization exercises now, will definitely do them regularly and teach them, that way I get some for myself too 🙂

Ilene Pellecchia

For many years I waked the streets in New York City in medical sales (in high heels no less) carrying a bag that weighed more than I did always over my right shoulder. I destroyed my body but especially that right shoulder. Wish I had found Yoga Tune Up years ago. Thanks Dineen for the tips.

Susannah Nelson

When you read an article like this it seems so rational and full of common sense! but then fashion is hardly ever rational! so I’m happy to be a Fascianista? and save my shoulders back and keep my neck mobile Roll on!! 🙂

Desiree N.

Such great ideas on something you don’t normally think about! I usually carry a heavy purse and a bag of “stuff” on the SAME shoulder every day. If I just put one on each shoulder, it could help balance me out and put less stress on my back. Simple, effective adjustments we can use in our daily lives. Thanks Dinneen!


My mom carried a huge heavy handbag and to this day still does. She complained of shoulder pain all of the time. The simple therapy ball exercises in the video would help her tremendously. At the age of 80 she could do these against a wall. Thanks for the wonderful article.


Being someone who commutes and carries a large bag, this article was so helpful on providing ideas on rolling out and stretching those areas. I’ve tried downsizing in the past only to move to a larger bag a few weeks later. Dineen, thanks for providing some YTU joint mobilization and stabilization exercises and rolling methods for those of us that just can’t seem to permanently downsize.

Sheena Nadeau

Such great advice! I often find myself carrying everything on one side, creating a serious imbalance all over. Thank you for including the exercises that can help, as well as the video to loosening up the upper back.

Sarah Harmon

Hi Dineen! I love this line: Will you be a Fashionista or a Fascianista? I’m going to have to “borrow it” as I’m often fully disclosing that I’ve thrown fashion out the window as I’ve learned more and more about the damage it’s done to my shoulders and whole body. I am obsessed with my patagonia convertible backpack/overshoulder bag as it allows me to keep my shoulders guessing and to change up the load from one to the other to both shoulders. It may not be the cutest bag at the work get together, but I know that my shoulders,… Read more »

Lori Palmer

The older I have become and the more embodied I try to be the less I care about fashion and my true Fascianista has been awakened! Thanks for a great post.


I vote Fascianista! This is a daily struggle as a mom of two kids who require me to be a walking refrigerator and sports trunk. Great advice on switching bags often and strengthening exercises using Yoga Tune Up exercises. Using therapy balls to release tension is one of the best discoveries I’m made over the last few years in terms of self-care. Thanks.

Samantha Martin

Good info and definitely somthing that I had to learn the hard way. For years I carried my laptop on the same shoulder…home each night and back the next day 5 days a week. About 9 months later, I had horrible pain in my trapezius muscle on one side and multiple visits to the chiropractor only gave minor relief. It wasn’t until I took a YTU training and shoulder workshop that I found some relief. Now I carry my laptop like a book and avoid re-creating the pain all together. Love the video and the suggestions on where to roll… Read more »


This article is a great reminder that despite our focused practice, it really is our day-to-day activities that define our posture. Observing our simple everyday habits is BORING, but immensely rewarding long-term, and can intelligently inform our practice too.


I’ve been told that my most distinctive feature is the large black, NYSC back-pack that is constantly attached to me. Long ago I gave up carrying fashionable purses and now carry everything in a back-pack so I can at least try to distribute the weight more evenly. Sometimes I will wear the bag on font to help give my back a break. I have tried carrying more heavy items in a rolling suitcase, but found that this required me to twist my body in strange ways that were just as uncomfortable as a purse or backpack. The burden of carrying… Read more »

Michelle Rakoczy

Good advice! Living in NYC, I have to carry a lot of things with me from place to place so this is something I struggle with immensely. It is very hard when you live your life on the go to have light bags. I try to switch my bags often but sometime I feel like that can be dangerous because if I use a bigger bag, somehow more things end up in it. I notice that backpacks help along with using my you tune up balls on the train and on breaks in between carrying my bag.


Yes! Love the advice to switch bags every day. I started carrying a backpack almost all the time about a year ago when I realized how much imbalance I had in my body from carrying a bag on my right shoulder my whole life, but just recently started realizing that even a well structured backpack is affecting my lumbar spine. A good reminder to intentionally switch off with carrying a bag on my left shoulder! (Or to think more seriously about inventing a backpack that is fashionable to wear in front? A frontpack?) Perhaps a fanny pack needs to enter… Read more »


As a postnatal yoga teacher it is so common to hear of shoulder and neck strain from heavy diaper bags, car seats and all of the work that goes into caring for their precious baby. I just learned all of the techniques you mentioned in your post yesterday in my YTU Level 1 training but didn’t think of how helpful these would be for those new mamas. Thank you, I can’t wait to share this in class.

Cindy Runzer

Yoga Tune Up® shoulder mobilization and stabilization exercises are so effective. My favourite is Pranic Bath, as it moves the shoulder joint through all of its directions of movement. I love to teach the Pranic Bath and have shown it to more people than I can count. Throughout my university years, I carried a backpack on my left shoulder, then a purse and later my children. I have a great deal of work to do on this area of my body but the poses you have included in your post all help a great deal.


I am guilty of carrying a bag that weighs 10+ pounds on a regular basis and am aware that this is probably the cause of most of my neck/shoulder/ upper back pain. For now, I do not have the option of lightening my load, but I love the idea of splitting things up into two bags. I am thankful for the self massage tutorial video posted above and cannot wait to incorporate this into my daily routine. thanks!

Marsha L.

I began carrying two bags distributing weight on both sides of my body, and I do feel some relief in my shoulders and neck. So glad I found this blog! Also, I started changing my shoes everyday because I noticed that my feet were aching, which led to lower back aches. I feel soooo much better now!! I love how you ask if I want to be a Fashionista or a Fascianista!! I want to be both!! Thanks for including the video to massage out the shoulders and upper back – so helpful! =)


Great points. I try to change up my shoes regularly, but I hadn’t ever considered how important it is to change bags regularly. I have yet to truly find a solution to bags. While carrying heavy study materials prepping for an exam the past 2 months, I tried to be mindful of my posture, carried my study materials in two smaller bags, and always carried the bags balancing one in each hand. I was attempting to circumvent the old habit of carrying heavy bags on one shoulder and throwing off my upper back. Unfortunately I ended up developing serious cumulative… Read more »


Ah, the struggle to be a fashionable fascianista! I just got a new cross-body bag that’s better than my old over-the-shoulder, but it still strains me. However, with two babies I have a certain amount of stuff I need to travel with….a conundrum. Switching up bags is good!

Katherine Deicke

This is a very common one that I feel people do ignore often! We need to realize that living in such a busy city or living a busy life, that it’s ok to take two trips to the car to get your groceries, or maybe that to go into a restaurant our children don’t need 10 toys and extra diapers/wipes/clothes “just in case”. I’m definitely guilty of this as a nanny, holding a 2 year old just because he wants to be held or carrying a diaper bag plus my purse plus 3 lunch bags just to go to the… Read more »

Courtney K

Reading this article is the perfect example of reading something that you 100% already know (and know you should be doing!) but forget to do. Living a life in NYC (or any city) you are constantly carrying a purse, a gym bag or a work computer; often times it can be all three! For me, walking to work even with just a purse creates pain in my shoulders and lower back, however often times, stubbornly I suppose, I don’t do anything about it. This article highlights and reminds me of the simple things one can do everyday to help your… Read more »

Liz Lor

You have to honor your body when choosing what you’ll carry. You can find a great cross body bag that lessens the pressure on your neck and shoulders. Another great tip is to make sure the bag you choose has an adjustable strap so you can customize it to your body needs. Also, it seems obvious but a smaller bag will force you to take less. My favorite is a wristlet with just my phone, keys, and a few cards and money.