Photo of leather cross body strap on a woman's designer handbag.

10 Tips to Overcome Neck Pain from Supersized Purses

We're pleased to be referenced by a local chiropractor, who has outlined 10 tips that may help with your back, neck and hip pain due to carrying large bags. Continue reading below to learn how to better handle your purses and bags.

By Goldi Jacques-Maynes of Golden Chiropractic

Neck pain tips.

Could Your SuperSize Purse Be Part of the Problem?

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that great bag that just carries everything is just not good for your body. Big, heavy bags cause quite a few health issues.

When you carry a heavy handbag or purse, hiking your shoulder up to keep it against your body, your GAIT is thrown off. The way you naturally swing your arms and legs while you walk is altered by the mere fact that you are trying not to drop your bag. This asymmetric load on one shoulder causes the muscles in this area to become imbalanced. This changes your posture including possibly causing the dominant shoulder to sit higher than your other shoulder. When your shoulders are off balance, your hips may get thrown off as the body tries to compensate. The muscles that often get stiff from heavy purses are the trapezius and levator scapula. Chronic muscle stiffness and spasm affect the curves of your spine. This may lead to arthritis. Chronic muscle tension can also lead to conditions like tension headaches, numbness and tingling in the arms, and forward head carriage.

What Can You Do to Save Your Body from a Big Bag?

  1. REDUCE THE LOAD IN YOUR BAG. Dump everything in your bag on the countertop at least once a week to reduce the random stuff that piles up in there. How many tubes of lipstick do you really need to carry on a daily basis? How many receipts do you need in your wallet? Can you carry just one or two snacks rather than an entire week’s worth? You’ll be amazed how much weight can be unloaded from your bag if you do this just once.
  2. SWITCH TO A SMALLER BAG. It will be lighter when you're forced to carry less.
  3. OPT FOR WIDE STRAPS. Wide straps on a purse or backpack help to distribute the weight of the bag across a wider area. The part of the shoulder and neck where your strap lies is also where the nerves that travel down your arm pass. Compression of those nerves over time can lead to the carpal tunnel-like symptoms of numbness and tingling in the hands.
  4. CHOOSE BAGS WITH ALTERNATE STRAP OPTIONS. Having the option of a shoulder bag or a hands-free crossbody bag is a nice way to mix up fashion with function. Many shoulder and top handle bags come with a crossbody option.
  5. USE AN ATTACHABLE STRAP. I like a clutch just like any girl, but a crossbody bag gives me a hands-free option. This gives me an extra hand to hold onto my daughter and my ice-cream cone. Attachable straps can restore a handbag with a broken or missing strap, or you can convert a purse into a crossbody bag with a longer strap. The folks over at MAUTTO offer a wide variety of customizable options.
  6. FIND YOUR BODY'S SWEET SPOT. Remember Goldilocks trying to find the most comfortable fit? Be like Goldilocks, and find your best purse fit. Your bag shouldn't be too high or too low. A shoulder bag should fit in the crook of your elbow. A cross-body bag should fit around the hip. Check out this handy FIT GUIDE
  7. SWITCH SHOULDERS. Switching shoulders periodically helps to balance the load. If you're spending the day walking around, try switching sides every 20-30 minutes to reduce strain.
  8. WATCH YOUR POSTURE. Many people walk with their head leaning forward, either texting or staring at the ground in front of them. Forward Head Posture and TEXT NECK are common conditions that are correlated with neck pain. Looking towards the horizon when you walk is a great way to see the beauty around you, look folks in the eye, and reduce neck strain.
  9. TRY A BACKPACK. Backpacks, which have two straps, evenly distribute the weight of your bag reducing neck strain and pressure on those precious nerves.
  10. GET YOUR EXERCISE. For balanced, toned shoulders that can withstand the weight of your favorite Tote, get regular exercise in the form of yoga, pilates, and weight training. Check out YouTube for exercises you can implement at home with very little equipment. Keep two empty milk gallons and fill with water to the desired weight.

Used by permission. Find more information about Golden Chiropractic at

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always seek advice from a physician or other qualified health care provider for your individual medical needs.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published