Fashion or foe?

Heavy bags put a lot of stress on your bones, joints and muscles — and may actually be causing damage.

Your oversize purse is ruining your body

You’re a multi-tasker. A career woman. A busy mom. A fashionista. You’re ready to take on whatever the day brings — and look good doing it — with your fully loaded, shoulder-slung, supersize satchel. But your posture may be paying the price for your preparedness. Heavy bags put a lot of stress on your bones, joints and muscles — and may actually be causing damage.

“The size and weight of the bag you carry has an enormous impact on your posture and movement,” said Rachel Busse, M.D., primary care physician and director of integrative medicine for Norton Healthcare. “You may not notice subtle changes in the way your body compensates for the weight, but eventually it will catch up with you and you will start experiencing pain.”

The weight of the bag is supported by muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments from the neck to the knees. It causes a shift in posture so that your body can carry the load. This shift can lead to headaches, neck and back pain, and aches in the hips and knees. Sustaining that weight over time can cause nerve damage and degenerative joint disease. And all of that is compounded when you wear high heels.

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal to carry that load every once in a while,” Dr. Busse said. “But over time, it takes a toll on the body — and there’s no undoing it. Now there are better options for carrying things in an ergonomic fashion and increasing the awareness of the work your body is doing for you each day.”

 


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