In a recent Time Health report, Dr. Sabrina Strickland, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York revealed the price you can pay for a heavy purse.
“When you carry a heavy bag on your shoulder, you kind of have to lift your shoulder, or lean over to the other side, otherwise it’s going to fall right off,” Strickland says.
“However long you’re holding that bag, you’re holding your spine in a curved way.”
Strickland says the misalignment can lead to pain in your back, neck, shoulders and muscles, joint strain and the worsening of problems like herniated disks. In children, it can even lead to scoliosis.
A small 2013 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science also found that habitually carrying your bag on one side can even affect how you walk, leading the researchers to caution that “people who carry bags should avoid the habit of carrying them on only one side.”
The best way to carry a heavy purse or bag is by dispersing weight across both shoulders, Strickland says, you’ll avoid the asymmetry that can lead to problems. “It’s far better to carry two bags—one on each shoulder,” she says. “Split it up. Two evenly distributed bags is best.”
The rule of thumb, as cited in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science study, says your purse should never exceed 10 percent of your body weight. So a 60kg woman, should not carry more than a 3kg bag. It’s even better to carry two x 3kg bags.
If you’re unsure of your purse’s weight, place it on scales at home before you head out. If too heavy, lighten it, or create a second bag.