Is Your Big Purse Too Heavy? How to Lighten Your Bag’s Load and the Pain it Causes

Big purses may be in vogue, but they can mean major trouble for your neck and back.

Credit: Wellness Matters

Purses with thicker, short straps will help alleviate back pain.

Oversized purses may be fashionable, but they can also be a real pain in your neck and back

A large, heavy handbag (6 to 10 pounds /3 to 4.5 kilograms) worn on one shoulder causes the body to tilt slightly forward and to the side, creating an imbalance when walking or standing.

Carrying a load on one shoulder also causes the wearer to frequently shrug the strap higher onto the shoulder (a repetitive strain action). This combination of factors can ultimately strain the neck muscles as well as the nerves leading down the shoulder, resulting in neck, shoulder and upper-back pain.

How to lose the pain (and bulky bag) without sacrificing fashion

To help avoid these problems choose a purse with a thicker, shorter strap, and wear the purse close to your body. Clean out your handbag regularly, weeding out heavy items like coins. Take only what you need, keeping weighty items (e.g., water bottles, books, laptops, pocket umbrellas) in a bag in your car or desk where they’re easily accessible.

Does this look like the inside of your purse? Maybe it’s time to ditch a few items
(Image: Flickr/Amy Dianna)

An oversized wallet can also be problematic. When a thick wallet is worn in the rear pocket, it shifts the pelvis and puts pressure on the piriformis muscle in the buttocks, which in turn compresses the sciatic nerve. This compression of the nerve can result in pain in the lower back, hip and leg.

What’s more, over time this pain can become chronic. To minimize your risk of developing pain, downsize your wallet by carrying only necessary credit cards. Better still, carry your wallet in your front pocket or jacket pocket, or consider using a money clip.