Handbags have been known to be a fashion item. It depicts style and make ladies look good.
But it could also cause pain, discomfort and postural defects. You might be eating right, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep but health problems could be as a result of an oversized handbag or the way it is carried.

Sometimes, ladies carry stuffs that they don’t need in their bags. They want to make the bag look puffy and not empty. This also applies to backpacks.
But we need to understand that heavy bags could cause postural defects and muscle imbalances. This condition is known as ‘Poshitis’: A condition in which the muscles, tendons and joints experience tears and strain as a result of heavy bags.

DIFFERENT STYLES OF CARRYING HANDBAGS AND EFFECTS

THE ARM CROOK HOOK:

The Arm Crook Hook

The arm crook hook is known to cause pain on the arms, especially if the bag is heavy and carried for too long.

Side Effects:

The effect of this style is the overworking of the elbow joint and muscles. The biceps are usually involved in executing this style. There is the constant contraction of the biceps muscle. This overworks the muscle, causing inflammation and pain. Due to constant load every time on that part of the body, the muscles are strained. There is also bound to be postural defect as a result of the weight constantly being on one side of the body. The shoulders also feel the pain because they are constantly at work.

THE SHOULDER SCHLEPP:

Shoulder Schlepp

 

Here, the bag is carried on the shoulder. It is used for both short and long-handled bags, so far the arm can go through the strap of the bag. The shoulder schlepp is one of the most dangerous styles because of the obvious uneven distribution of weight. In a bid not to let the bag fall off, we tend to lift the shoulder unknowingly to support the strap. This bring about tilting to one side, disrupting the normal alignment of the body.
Disruption of the body’s alignment come with its own effects. The shoulder is usually unbalanced in this case. In the long run, the individual begins to walk with one shoulder above the other. It becomes an habit
Side Effects:

This causes postural and muscle imbalance. It causes pain in the, neck, shoulders and all the way to the back.We tend to carry the bag in our area of dominance. Left-handed people carry on their left side while right-handed people carry on their right side; If care is not taken, it can lead to a frozen shoulder and arthritis, with a heavy bag aggravating the condition.

THE SWING:

The Swing

This style is meant for only small-handled bags. In this style, fingers are wrapped around the handle of the bag. This style is better only when the weight of the bag is light and when more  attention is paid to the body posture while walking.

Side Effects:

A detrimental effect is the swing of only one arm while executing this style. The other arm cannot swing freely because of the bag, so there is a limit in the pattern of movement (gait)
There is disruption of movement and in a situation where the bag is heavy, there is unequal weight distribution, body misalignment because of the tilting to one side to carry the weight of the bag. This could lead to postural defect and deformity in the long run.

THE BODY DRAPE:

From left: Body Drape, The Swing and Shoulder Schlepp

The body drape is considered the best style of carrying the bag because the weight of the body is evenly  distributed. The bag crosses the body. There is no form of the body tilting to one side. There is tendency for the bag to come in contact with the body while walking. This does not allow free movement. It is advisable to ensure that the strap is long and should fit in such a way that the bag is held firm and does not move while working.

BACKPACKS:

Kid carrying heavy backpack

For backpacks, carrying weight more than 2kg is detrimental. It could lead to soft tissue injuries, neck, back and shoulder pain; this also applies to children as well. While carrying a heavy backpack, the neck naturally leans away to support the weight of the bag. In the long run, there is stiffness of the neck, scoliosis. When the muscles are tired, they are not able to support the spine. This causes the curvature of the spine. In addition, backpacks should not be hanging on the wearer’s butt. Its for the back not the butt. It should hang on the back with load not too heavy.

WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT POSTURE DAMAGE

 

Carrying either an handbag or backpack makes one walk differently unknowingly.
So much force increases pressure on the leg causing arthritis overtime. The greater the load, the more the pressure on the legs

First and Foremost, to avoid all of these, it is advisable to switch sides from time to time when we carry our handbags. Carry for ten minutes on the right side, then switch to the left side; with this, there is equal distribution of weight and unloading of the muscles, prevention of muscle imbalance and postural defect.

Secondly, reduce weight of the bag. Heavy bags are not advisable. To avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort and pressure on the legs carry only that which is important. If there is too much to carry, it is advisable to carry two small bags rather than one heavy one.

Thirdly, pay more attention to your posture while carrying your bag. Keep weight evenly distributed, keep the abs engaged (like you are trying to button a tight trouser)
Shoulder blades should be down and back. Wear bags diagonally by slinging the bag across the body just like the body drape style. Adjust the strap to minimise the swing of the bag. Also, go for wider straps.

Finally, adopt the habit of doing simple exercise for the muscles of the shoulder, neck and back regularly. This can be done by performing the neck rotation, neck, back and shoulder stretch and shoulder rolls.

Neck and Shoulder Exercises

Above all, Try as much as possible to move without a bag once in a while.

 

 

Delivered on Doctor ON Air by: Dania Eunice
An exercise Physiologist/fitness Consultant and Instructor
Doctor On Air is a social media arm of the Michael Agbaakin Foundation. See: http://michael-agbaakin.com/

 

Image Source: http://mandevillechiropractor.com, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/455919162266710795/, http://www.athletico.com