Did you know that in 2007 The American Chiropractic Association reported that purse-related injuries surged 30%?  The average woman’s handbag weighs 5.2 pounds these days and the UK’s Daily Mail reports that the average “Man Bag” weighs almost 13 pounds!  That’s like hauling around 5 to12 one-pound bags of sugar.  The results are not so sweet.

Just this morning I observed a Fashion-savvy woman furiously text messaging on the subway.   From her texting arm hung a 10-12 pound bag and from the opposite shoulder hung another bag twice as heavy.  Her head hung forward about 6 inches, her cervical spine in wickedly deep flexion while her fingers ravenously danced over her Blackberry keyboard.

It’s hard to say which is worse, carrying a huge bag on the elbow joint or carrying on the shoulder since both purse-carries have detrimental effects:

The Arm Bag Carry

The Huge Handbag that hangs off the elbow joint can damage the superficial radial nerves that stretch from the elbow to the hand on the anterior side of the forearm.  As we daintily bear the weight on our forearm, our digital flexors and pronator teres become tenderized.   Alas, it’s not uncommon for those who’ve never played tennis to suddenly acquire a Tennis Elbow diagnosis as the olecranon bursa and/or the tendon attachments become inflamed.

The Shoulder Bag Carry

The Shoulder Bag Carry is not much improvement:  Strapping a giant bag on one shoulder can aggravate tender rotator cuff muscles and degrade the highly susceptible shoulder joint capsule, resulting in pain.  Furthermore, this big bag hanging off one side of your body may result in acquired functional spinal curvature as your muscles and spine are forced to counterbalance the weight, creating repetitive stress on the axial skeleton.  Again, the result is pain, usually in the back.

So, what’s the fix? Read my post on Friday to find out!

Discover solutions for shoulder pain.

Watch our Quickfix video for upper back pain.

Watch our Quickfix video for lower back pain.

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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Marnie Werner

Dinneen, this post gives me so much gratitude for the backpack I recently purchased to replace my beautiful, yet pain and strain inducing, leather handbag. I have heard more than once a case of scoliosis being caused by bearing the weight of an overstuffed purse on the same side of the body every single day. I want absolutely none of that! Having weight evenly distributed across the upper back and shoulders seems much wiser. Also, text neck is way too real of a thing. As if the strain from the too heavy handbag wasn’t enough, we have to crane our… Read more »

Lorraine Gaston

Hi Dinneen, I completely agree. I think whats even worse are the laptop bags that weigh loads as well. I’m a handbag addict but these days they sit in my wardrobe and I just use a backpack and leave my laptop in the office whenever I can. Lorraine