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Backpacks and Purses Can Throw Off Your Alignment

woman backpackIf you’re experiencing back, neck, or shoulder pain, your heavy shoulder bag might be the culprit.

Shoulder bags cause some of the same problems seen in children who carry their backpacks on one shoulder. That’s because we tend to lean to one side, in order to offset the extra weight. Your muscles strain to compensate for the uneven load, which can lead to pain and spasm.

Wearing all that weight on your shoulder can throw off your natural gait and your posture. Ultimately, you may end up with one shoulder higher than the other, and an asymmetric load that can lead to spinal misalignment.

Here is a rule of thumb – don’t carry shoulder loads that are more than 10 percent of your body weight. Research conducted on children ages 8 to 11 examined the effects of various loads on a child’s posture: 10 percent of body weight, 15 percent, and 20 percent. The researchers concluded that schoolchildren should limit their backpack loads to less than 10 percent of their body weight. The same is true of backpacks and purses for adults.

Our recommendation is to empty your purse of the unnecessary clutter that can weigh you down. The same with backpacks. Try to keep the load closest to your center of gravity. And if your children have to carry heavier loads for school, make sure to have them store their books in their school lockers, or buy them a wheeled backpack.

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