I love myself a big handbag. You name the color I have one and it’s usually big enough to hold all my “stuff”- phone, iPad, make-up, and everything else I feel the need to have with me. But there is a price to having this popular fashion look and it even has a name –Poshitis-muscle strain caused from carrying large handbags. Do you have POSHITIS?
There are many ways we carry large bags-over the shoulder, over a bent elbow, on our backs, hanging from our hand. Whatever your favorite purse posturing, it can be the source of your aching neck, back, arm and hand when the bag is too heavy. I know, I know, I cannot change your style- you will buy what you like, fashion first and suffer the consequences. So let’s discuss how to make your body stronger but your bag lighter- without disappointing our inner fashionista.
The combination of the weight of your bag against muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments- plus the way you compensate with your posture to accommodate the load can lead to many problems like: headaches, upper neck/shoulder pain, back pain, scoliosis, kyphosis and tendinitis in the elbow. When you carry something heavy every day, the accumulated stress can lead to significant injuries that require you to seek medical intervention. Everyone has seen articles on the effects of teenage posture caused by carrying heavy backpacks. So how can you change things to improve this situation?
It’s not only the size and weight of the bag but where you carry it. You can make simple adjustments that can help with this.
- Change sides: Carrying your bag on the same side all the time can severely overwork muscles, which can over time change posture. Form follows function – meaning if you are always in the same position (form) performing a function, you will strengthen that form- i.e. – change posture to adapt. Switch the side you hold your bag on every 30 minutes to help balance forces.
- Purchase Wisely: Purchase bags that you can easily switch from carrying on your shoulder to carrying on your elbow or from your hand. This will give muscles a breather and let posture muscles recover.
- Do Your Pilates: If you have been to a Pilates class you always hear about stabilizing, breathing, and engaging your core. Well, here is a time you could do all those things. Heavy bag? Not a problem. Pull your shoulders back and down, stabilizing your shoulder girdle, hold in your abdominals, engaging that Pilates powerhouse. First and foremost this will help you carry the load of your bag more efficiently and secondly make you stand up taller so you look statuesque and more fashionista –like. No slouching models.
- Cross Body: If you are traveling and know that you will be lugging around other bags then use a cross body bag. This will minimize swing and allows the muscles of the trunk to carry more of the load so the upper body can relax.
- Disperse Load: Purchase wider strap bags, at least 2 inches across, to disperse weight evenly. A narrow strap concentrates force whether on your shoulder, elbow or even the hand.
- Downsize: If you are having pain issues then you must try to opt for a smaller size. Package extra necessities in pouches that you can store in your car or desk instead of carrying them around with you. Remember the bigger bag, the more junk you haul around.
PUT YOUR PURSE ON A DIET
- Buy bags with minimal hardware, and made from lighter weight materials like nylon or fabric.
- Empty your wallet of the tons of spare change, reward cards (use the APP “Card Star” to store these), and extra credit cards.
- Lighten your key chain. Remove the keys, zip drives, hand sanitizers etc. you don’t absolutely need and use on a daily basis. Key chains can add up to 2 # of weight to your bag.
- Purge some of the extra lipsticks, lip glosses, compacts etc. you are storing in your purse.
So you’ve done all I have said but you still experience postural fatigue? You can do a few things.
First consider taking a Pilates class to help you strengthen postural and core muscles. Your strength comes from your center so if you boost up the power there you are less likely to suffer postural fatigue.
Secondly, you can do a few self-treatment techniques that can help you to decrease pain.
- Foam roll– Grab your foam roller. Lay on in for 5-10 minutes just to get your posture back in a neutral position. You can also use it horizontally across your upper back to help roll out the kinks. Need help with this?- Check out one of my roller books- http://www.amazon.com/Donna-Gambino/e/B00J3PS0RS/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
- Neck Stretches– Stand tall. Place your right hand near your left ear. Gently pull down toward right shoulder, hold 10-20 secs. Repeat 3 times and switch sides. Be gentle with no tugging or forcing.
- Shoulder rolls– Stand tall. Lift shoulders up, pull them back and then down, in a circle 10-20 times, then reverse directions.
- Forearm stretches—Hold arms out in front. Flex hands downward, the upward to stretch out the forearm muscles ( Do this if you hold your purse in the crook of your elbow)
Hopefully these tips will help you to avoid “Poshitis” but still help to keep you looking fab. Share with me your favorite bag and how you choose to carry it on my facebook page
Interested in trying out a Pilates class? Visit my website at www.infinityhealth.org for a schedule of ongoing classes or private instruction.