Is your purse too heavy?

Is your purse too heavy?

While it might be convenient to carry a gargantuan purse, it has health implications and could be a source of pain in your neck, shoulders and back.

“Unfortunately, when you’ve been doing something for so long, it’s easy to neglect the pain that can come with carrying a heavy purse,” says Dr. Martin Jacobson, a chiropractor at Aurora BayCare Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center in Green Bay, Wis.

While it may not be easy to make the switch to a smaller purse or a clutch, Dr. Jacobson offers some benefits and tips:

Consider a minimalist mindset

When you carry a hefty purse, there is the subconscious, need-filled anxiety to pack it with odds and ends. And you might end up filling it with items you don’t actually need to carry around.

“Reevaluate what you truly need to carry,” says Dr. Jacobson. “Stick to your wallet, cell phone, sunglasses, keys, touch-up makeup and medical needs, like one feminine hygiene product, a couple Band-Aids, headache medicine and such.”

Your body will thank you

When you carry a handbag resembling the weight of an occupied bowling ball bag, “you put strain on your back, neck, shoulders, muscles and joints, which can even result in herniated discs,” Dr. Jacobson says. “Pinched nerves are another common consequence.”

If you’re not sure if your purse is still too heavy, keep in mind your purse should never weigh more than 10% of your body weight.

Check your bag daily, no matter the size

We tend to toss things into our purse without thought, like old receipts and expired shopping lists. Make a habit of going through your bag every evening and purging what doesn’t belong.

If there are additional items you cannot live without, find a new home for them

If you spend a substantial amount of time in your car or at work, contemplate keeping extra objects (like lint removers, lotions, eye drops, brushes, etc.) in a bag or organized container one or both of these locations.

If you absolutely cannot give up your large handbag, consider this:

  • Switch which side of your body you carry your purse often.
  • Get a backpack-style purse to evenly distribute the weight on your back, neck and shoulders.
  • Get a massage regularly to help your muscles relax.
  • Work on your core muscles to better support the weight of a heavy bag.

Are you having back or neck problems? Take a free online quiz here to learn more. 

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  2. This is so true. We don’t need it all with us at all times. I found this out recently after a recent unscheduled surgery. When I got back on my feet, the purse I had been carrying every day for years began weighing very heavy on my back causing my back to hurt. I have since downsized and the “fear” of needing everything with me at all times has decreased and I’m sure my body thanks me.

  3. MONIQUE DAILEY March 7, 2023 at 2:35 pm · Reply

    I recently just experienced my shoulder and neck pain. So, bad I thought I was going to have to the ER. The pain was so unbearable. I was having muscle spasms as well. I realized it was my purse. I had to take somethings out of it. And, to my surprise, with some ibuprofen I felt better. Thank you for this article.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.