If you have nagging neck, shoulder, or upper back pain one place to start making changes is with the stuff you lug around daily.
And what you lug that stuff around in.
Yes, ladies, I am talking about your bag.
This can be a sensitive subject.
Let’s face it, we get attached to our bags.
At least I do.
Ever weighed your bag? It can be quite enlightening. Find a scale and put your bag on it and see what poundage you are actually carrying around on a daily basis.
Some of my students carry so much stuff around, I jokingly suggest they invest in a camel to carry it for them.
Actually, if you are having neck, shoulder, and upper back pain it would probably be easier to experiment with my suggestions below than to invest in a camel.
If you want to make some changes here are my three down-and-dirty suggestions:
1. Lighten your load
I bet there are things in your bag that you rarely if ever use. But you won’t know if you don’t dump it all out and do a thorough inspection.
When you get home at the end of the day today, dump the contents of your bag on a table. Put in one pile everything you used today. Put in a second pile everything you did not use today. More often than not, the pile of stuff you didn’t use is larger than the pile of stuff you did use.
Are there items you use occasionally you would be willing to keep in your desk at your office or your glove compartment in your car instead of your purse? Are there items you are willing to leave at home altogether? You can experiment with leaving some stuff at home and see if you actually miss it. You can always put it back in later. But you won’t know if you don’t experiment.
2. Downsize your bag
Once you have lightened the load, you have an excuse to go shopping and find a bag that fits just the stuff you have left. Meaning, a smaller bag. I have found from experience that if I have a bag, I will fill it. If I have a bigger bag, I will fill that. And if I have an even bigger bag…well you get the gist.
Having a bag that fits just the stuff you need keeps you honest.
When looking for a bag be aware that the material your bag is made of will have a weight to it. Some leathers tend to be quite heavy. Others are much lighter. And there are a lot of other materials that bags are made from that are not so weighty and still look very nice.
Also, pay attention to metal doodads hanging off the bag. All of which add to the overall weight you must carry around.
3. Cross it over
I am a big fan of carrying any bag across my body (unless it is a backpack in which case on both shoulders)—as opposed to on one shoulder. This goes for laptop bags as well.
Often when you carry a bag on one shoulder you inadvertently raise that shoulder and lean away from the bag as you carry it. One good place to observe people carrying bags on one shoulder is the next time you are at an airport. Do a survey and look for this shoulder-raising trend.
Cross it over your body to help distribute the weight. Let your shoulders widen out on top of your ribcage instead of lifting them up to support the bag.
There’s a saying that it’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.
There are some loads you carry around on a daily basis that will break you down.
Be smart and lighten the load first and then pay attention to how you carry it.