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Fix That Bag-Induced Back Pain

Many people, especially workers, admit to having back pain at some point in their lives; this pain that is mostly caused by heavy bags. So, why are our beloved purses causing harm to our backs and how can we solve this issue or avoid the discomfort altogether.


EJ Johnson carrying yellow Hermes Birkin Bag. Photo_ Purse Blog

What happens when you carry a heavy purse?

Distorted gait

Some consequences come with carrying a bag on one shoulder, one being that it interferes with your normal gait. When you walk, your arms and legs swing together; putting a handbag on one side of the body hinders one arm from swinging properly, making the other arm swing more.

Unbalanced muscles

Carrying a heavy load on one shoulder throws off your posture and causes the muscles in that shoulder to become bigger than the other. Most people tend to hang their purses over their dominant side — the right shoulder if you’re right-handed. This load also forces the muscles in your spine to compensate for the excess weight, causing the opposite side to go into spasm.

Stiff muscles

The delicate muscles that help one carry their purse also help assist with turning the head. Carrying a heavy purse can make the muscles in your shoulder and neck to spasm, stiffen and ache, or cause one to develop arthritis and a decreased curve in the neck.


Forcing one’s muscles to do all this heavy lifting can cause tension headaches, especially when the shoulder and neck muscles spasm, causing pain in the back of your skull.


Prada bag. Photo_ Lakin Ogunbanwo

How can you fix the damage?

Lighter bags

Firstly, reduce the weight of your bag. Never carry more than 10 percent of your body weight, five with purses. The easiest way to do this is to make sure that the bag you’re carrying is not heavy.  Better still, switch to a smaller purse and make sure you don’t overload it.

The wider the strap, the better

Using bags with wider straps helps distribute the weight over a wider area, protecting the delicate structures in the shoulder and helping to avoid potential injury caused by carrying heavy loads. To give your shoulders a break from time to time, choose bags with handles you can hold in your hand and longer straps to wear across your body.


Some forms of exercise like yoga, pilates, stretching and light weights can help tone your shoulders. Also, try walking without a bag from time to time to restore your natural gait. That natural swing is good for the shoulders.


Extra tips

  • Avoid texting while carrying your bag; it can worsen neck pain.
  • Opt for backpacks, which help distribute weight between both shoulders.
  • Wear comfortable footwear to prevent chronic pain; high heels and heavy bags are double trouble.
  • To ensure your muscles develop equally, switch your purse to the opposite shoulder often to balance the weight your body carries.
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