For many women, your handbag is more than an accessory. It’s where you store everything you’ll need for going to work, going out or in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Your handbag is where you keep your basics — and then some — like purses, cosmetics, laptops, snacks, gym clothes, water bottles, the kitchen sink and whatever your significant other / child doesn’t want to carry.

Let’s face it: You’d be lost without your bag.

Zombies and handbags and bad backs


This didn’t use to be the norm, however. In earlier days, handbags were exactly that. Designed to be carried in your hands for smaller items like money or a lipstick.

It wasn’t until the 20th century, with more women becoming employed, that handbags grew in size and began being slung over the shoulder for evening use or going to the office.

Fast forward to the present day and many of you are hauling around Mary Poppins-sized totes. But carting a heavy bag all day is more harmful to our health than we may realise.

Over time, the amount of strain that we put on our bodies due to oversized bags can cause some pretty serious pain and even long-term issues like muscle spasms or a pinched nerve.

If you’re experiencing shoulder, back, buttock, arm pain or tingling in your hands — unhealthy handbag habits could be to blame. Let’s look at some of the culprits and how you can avoid causing serious injury to your spine.

First, your tote’s too heavy

Sure, being prepared for a possible Walking Dead scenario has its advantages, but it’s also putting endless stress on your hips and shoulders. The continued off-kilter angle that you subject your body to could also result in your gait becoming unbalanced. This leads to strain through the obliques, transverse abs and QL (that’s your back and side).

Lightening your load is the best way to ensure that your muscles and shoulders stay healthy. Simply reduce the weight of your handbag to the point where you don’t feel any noticeable strain from carrying it.

Victoria Beckham and handbags and bad backs

Your bag gives no support

I see countless women carrying some huge, overloaded whopper of a bag that would really be better suited for Santa Claus to do deliveries rather than a day at the office. Using a backpack can relieve tension because it distributes weight properly when worn correctly. Yes I know it’s probably not as fashionable or cool but neither is pain.

I guarantee when you’re sitting in pain in later life you won’t be remembering how amazing your Burberry or Birkin (or copy from River Island) looked on your shoulder, you’ll be wondering how to get rid of the pain.

If you don’t like the idea of using a backpack, I recommend getting a handbag with good, firm grips that have some added padding to help reduce the strain on your muscles. Try carrying it in your hand from time to time and switching sides as often as possible.  Also make sure to avoid totes with chain links or skinny straps that will dig into your shoulder. The styles you wear should not impede your ability to get through your day effectively and comfortably.

Louis Vuitton backpack and handbag and bad backs

One Sided

As I have just mentioned we’re creatures of habit and tend to carry things with the same arm. When you have a heavy bag on the same shoulder for long periods of time, it’ll cause the shoulder to begin to roll forward and down which stretches the muscles in the upper back and neck.

This will eventually lead to weak muscles and more severe issues like thoracic outlet syndrome. To prevent this, change up your position and sides throughout the day.

 handbag and bad backs

Waiting too late for pain symptoms

Instead of waiting for pain to strike (and risking further injury), Spreiter recommends doing three sets of 15-20 reps of resistance shoulder exercises. Use lighter weights to improve the strength and endurance of weak upper back, neck, and shoulder muscles.

Anyone who has already been to see me will know that I advocate exercise, ALWAYS! Using and moving your muscles will increase their strength, reduce muscle atrophy and keep you in good shape.

Don’t just focus on working your handbag muscles. Use them all and get all round fitness. Perhaps use an appropriate bag to carry your gym gear in too!

Sales pitch

Of course the purpose of this blog is to draw your attention to soft tissue therapy. Massage and soft tissue techniques can help you to undo what you have already done but regular monthly maintenance appointments can help to keep you in tip top condition.

Identifying potential issues before they become more serious. If you are determined to carry that bag, then you’re going to have to mitigate for it.  Don’t even get me started on shoes…..

Call me on 07980 339 864 for a chat about your specific needs.