September 12, 2018 | Staff
There is a sneaky reason why so many people experience shoulder, neck and back pain.
In today's culture of being on-the-go, we tend to carry around a myriad of "necessities" in our purses, briefcases and computer bags. The added weight against the body can cause pain and discomfort, and a person may not even realize that their bag is the culprit!
If you are doubting this, simply empty out your own bag. You are likely to pull out pounds and pounds of stuff... from water bottles, books, toys for the kids, several sets of keys and even up to $20 in coins. Most people are also carrying much more technology than ever before, from smartphones to laptops. While they seem like little things, these items add up weight very quickly.
Carry Less Than 10 Percent of Your Body Weight
Ideally, you should never carry more than 10 percent of your body weight. To ensure that your bag is under the recommended weight limit, put your bag on a scale and see how it measures up. If it is too heavy, figure out which items you can do without.
Downsize Your Bag
Pick the smallest bag you can. Remember that if you carry around a bigger bag, you will just put more stuff in it. The easiest way to lighten your load is to carry a small bag filled with only what you really need and leave the rest at home. Keep in mind that it's usually not one single item that leads to neck and back pain but the accumulation of smaller items that causes pain. A pile of loose change rattling around in the bottom of your purse likely weighs more than you would ever imagine.
Choose Thick Straps
Thin straps concentrate the weight on a smaller area and can cut into your muscles and lead to problems. Conversely, a wider strap distributes the weight in a way that is more comfortable and less taxing on your muscles.
Switch Sides Often
If you just cannot avoid using a single-strap bag, be conscious of changing the sides you use to carry it. Regularly move your bag from your left hand to your right hand or shoulder. Putting extra weight on one side of your body for an extended period of time causes your spine to curve, and that leads to back pain symptoms. A bag that you wear diagonally across your body will help with this rather than a single-strap bag that rests on one shoulder.
Use a Backpack Instead
Backpacks are not just for school kids anymore! Just like the messenger style back mentioned above, the dual straps of a backpack evenly distribute the weight on your body. When you slide a backpack onto your shoulders, be sure to adjust the straps so that you carry it as high on your back as you can. Keep the straps pulled tight so the bag is as close to your body as possible.
Opt For Wheels
There's a good reason you see airline pilots and flight attendants using pull-cart bags or luggage on wheels; they help avoid neck and back pain symptoms.
Use Different Bags For Different Functions
Instead of cramming everything you need in one bag, designate a purse for personal essentials, a briefcase for business, a gym bag for workout gear, a diaper bag for your toys and other items the kids will need.
Remember to check in with your body. If you are experiencing pain in your shoulders, neck or back or if you feel numbness or tingling in your hands and arms, it may be time to consult a medical professional.
The experienced and dedicated orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists at Ventura Orthopedics are here for you. If you are concerned about problems that you are experiencing with your shoulders, neck or back, talk to the experts at Ventura Orthopedics today. Call us at 800.698.1280 to schedule an appointment.