Oversize totes carry a serious potential for injury and poor posture

Did you know that carrying your purse (or backpack, computer bag) could be contributing to poor posture?

Oversize totes carry a serious potential for injury. The combination of the weight of the bag against muscles, tendons, nerves, and ligaments - plus the compensating shift in posture you make to carry the load - can lead to headaches, back and neck pain, increased risk of scoliosis, and body aches. Really push the poundage, and you could suffer more serious nerve trauma (numbness and tingling in the arm) or degenerative joint disease. It's easy to dismiss the "pocketbook effect," but when you carry something heavy every day, the accumulated stress can lead to significant injuries that require medical attention," says Martin Lanoff, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and clinical assistant professor at Rosalind Franklin University Medical School in Chicago. It's not only the size and weight, but also where and how to you tote your purse that can lead to aches and pains. 

Avoid injury by making these 4 simple adjustments:

SWITCH IT UP. Carrying a bag on the same side all the time can overwork muscles and permanently corrupt your posture. Switch sides every few minutes to keep things balanced.

AVOID ELBOW OVERLOAD. Hold your bag on your shoulder and not in the crook of your arm to avoid elbow injuries like tendinitis.

ENGAGE YOUR CORE. Keep your abs drawn in (as if you're getting into a tight pair of jeans) and your weight centered, shoulders lined up over hips and shoulder blades down and back.

DIAGONAL CARRY. Sling your bag across your body and adjust the strap to minimize swing. This allows the trunk and core muscles to take on more of the load, minimizing stress on the lower back. Do your body good; lighten the load and put your purse/handbag on a diet!

Susan Arruda