Person Walking With Bags

Does wearing a bag cause back pain?

Whether to carry your purse and phone, your school supplies, or lots of tasty snacks, a bag is an essential item for many people.

However, the type of bag you own and how you carry it can contribute to back and shoulder pain.

Why is this the case?

A bag that’s too heavy or where the weight is unevenly distributed can put a strain on the muscles and joints in your neck, back, and shoulders. Not only this, but an overly heavy bag can cause you to lean forward, shifting your centre of gravity and resulting in poor posture.

The good news is that you can still wear that trendy backpack or handbag without hurting yourself. Here are our top tips.

1. Avoid carrying a backpack on one shoulder

While it might be easier and more fashionable to sling a backpack on one shoulder, this can lead to muscle strain on one side of your body, as well as slouching, which can negatively affect your posture.

Using both straps distributes the weight more evenly.

If you have a handbag or cross-body bag with one strap, try alternating the shoulder you carry it on.

2. Don’t overload your bag

According to studies, a backpack that’s greater than 15% of your total body mass can result in lower back problems.

Only carry the essentials you need – we recommend emptying your bag at least once a week to see if there’s anything you can keep at home.

If you’re at school or work and have access to a locker, take advantage of it to store anything heavy.

3. Take regular breaks

Carrying a bag for long periods of time (for example, if you’re out shopping) can lead to muscle tightness and stiffness.

Taking regular breaks can take the strain off your back – even if it’s just for five minutes once an hour.

4. Choose a bag with added ergonomic features

Padded straps or a waist belt can make carrying a heavier backpack more comfortable and take the pressure off your back and shoulders.

Similarly, adjustable straps mean you can get the perfect fit. Tight straps can lead to shoulder pain, while loose straps mean your bag swings around, which you may need to adjust your posture for in order to accommodate.

5. Stretch out at the end of the day

When you get home and hang your bag up (or throw it on the floor!), take five minutes to do some simple back stretches. This reduces tension and means you’re less likely to experience soreness.

There you have it – five simple tips for wearing a backpack or handbag without feeling the pain. Who said you can’t look stylish while keeping your posture in check?