My bag’s hurting my back

Frontpacks and backpacks are most suitable for carrying load, because they produce a symmetrical postural deviation in one plane. In contrast shoulder bags and hand held bags produce postural deviation in all planes, causing adverse stress and strain on spinal structures. This imbalance often causes pain and progressive postural imbalance.

These days one of the key factors influencing women’s neck and shoulder pain is their bags. Generally women are selecting bigger handbags and making it their mission to fill them! And men, don’t think you have got out of this one. How many of you have ‘Man bags’, one shoulder bags or hand held bags with laptops or gym kit in?

There can be a lot to live up to when working in the City. With many people feeling compelled to wear the most fashionable item, even if it comes at a cost to their health. Heavy bags can not only cause pain in the shoulders but also into the neck resulting in reduced neck rotation and headaches. Headaches are commonly caused by restrictions in the spine and muscular tension within the neck. These problems are growing more and more common in adults, just as they have with children carrying backpacks on one shoulder.

How balanced are you? – Home check

Look at the level of your shoulders in the mirror and note the muscle bulk from side to side. Is one of your shoulders higher than the other? 

Ideally your shoulders should be level, cast your mind back to what you have been carrying that could be causing this imbalance.

Fashion Bags V’s function

Fashion is something many take very seriously, and would rather ‘look the part’ than consider the long term effects on their bodies. We often recommend people reduce what they carry, but for some this is not possible, and others still choose to carry numerous items ‘just in case’. It is also becoming more common for people to carry laptops due to hot-desking, working from home etc. Although laptops are getting lighter they are still large and bulky. It’s important to realise the potential damage caused by certain lifestyle choices, and why change is important to prevent long term or recurring issues.

It is important to try to find a compromise, for example:-

  • A desk worker who uses a laptop at work and home should have one for each location.
  • Rather than using a handheld bag use a backpack which evenly distributes the weight over both shoulders, while directing the load close to the body. There are lots of fashionable backpacks on the market now.

Still not willing to ditch the Handbag?

Here are a few tips:-

  • Ensure the weight is distributed throughout the whole bag and not focused to one area

  • Keep the bulk of the bag close to the centre of the body and keep the straps resting close to the neck

  • Alternate the side you carry the bag

  • And reduce the amount you carry in your handbag – Essentials only!

Many people experience pain carrying on a daily basis. There are often many things that can be done to prevent and or manage this. Chiropractors aim to treat the cause, re-educating the body on how it should be functioning. It is also important the patient is educated on good spinal health as a preventative measure. There’s little point correcting something if the cause of the problem remains eg carrying a heavy shoulder bag.

To find out more about Chiropractic and Sports Massage and how it may help you with your pain carrying please call us on 0203 633 0565 or email