Most women like to carry a shoulder bag. The container provides more room than a pocket and lets them store both vital and mundane objects like cosmetics, electronic devices, edibles, and wallets, among others.
Because women like to put a lot of items inside their bags, they may experience pain in their shoulders or lower back, especially after carrying those bags for long periods during the day.
And as if causing shoulder and back pain isn't enough trouble, shoulder bags also negatively affect women's posture.
Good posture involves two things: supporting or maintaining the natural curvature of the spine and using the muscles that keep the body upright.
The bones of a person with good posture are aligned correctly. When the right muscles are activated, that person can sit up straight without any issue. (Related: Improving your posture could help reduce muscle pain, joint pain and headaches.)
Good posture is all about symmetrical alignment. Anything that ruins the body's natural symmetry — like a hefty shoulder bag that hangs from just one side of the body — can negatively affect posture.
“The more load you have on your body, the more your body has to fight that asymmetry,” says Dr. Sarah Kostyukovsky, a physical therapist at Physio Logic in New York.
Kostyukovsky recommends carrying around less during the day than more. Since humans are naturally intended to stay aligned and balanced, increasing the weight on just one side of the body disrupts proper posture.
Understandably, a shoulder bag will force its wearer into an asymmetrical position, especially if the bag is heavy.
To help maintain good posture, women are advised to regularly work on their shoulder and upper-back strength. Doing so will reduce the risk of misalignment that leads to terrible posture.
“If you have the strength to maintain your symmetry, then you'll be fine,” Kostyukovsky explains. “?But if you don't, then you'll put stress on your body.”
Instead of carrying shoulder bags that disrupt the symmetrical alignment of the body, women may consider using other types of bags. Some of these options can even improve their posture.
A backpack is the best bag to use if you wish to maintain good posture. Another good option is a cross-body bag. When properly worn, these bags distribute their load symmetrically, allowing a person to carry heavy weights without compromising their body symmetry.
While some backpacks have decorative straps, others feature functional ones that can be adjusted to fix the way the bag hangs from the back.
If your backpack has straps like these, use them to secure your bag tightly to your back. The closer the bag is to your back, the less stress it places on your spine. Your body will also find the bag easier to control than if it's not supported closely to you.
Kostyukovsky advises picking a backpack with chest and waist straps. Both straps help further secure the backpack to its user.
If a shoulder bag is necessary, don't put too many items in it and avoid using it for long periods to prevent damage to your posture.