Weight On Your Shoulders

One frequent cause of postural imbalance which is easily overlooked is the shoulder bag. Many women carry tote bags or purses with shoulder straps every day and most are in the habit of using the same shoulder all of the time. Many children carry their backpack on one shoulder instead of two. Although it is a very convenient method of carrying belongings, leaving the hands free, it can lead to spinal problems.

Surprisingly, the weight of the shoulder bag is not the most important factor. The strain on the body is not caused by the bag weighing the shoulder down. The problem is that in order to carry a strap on the shoulder - whether it is light or heavy - the shoulder must be raised to prevent it from slipping. This causes tension in the muscles running from the shoulder blade to the neck. The results can include neck, shoulder or arm pain, headaches, dizziness and even low back pain. Carrying a bag on one shoulder may seem an insignificant thing but the length of time and the constant repetition are the important factors.

Possible alternatives are to carry a handbag with a short strap or a clutch bag with no handle. A shoulder bag can be used if it is worn with the strap across the body from one shoulder to the opposite hip. This way the hands are still free and the shoulders are level. This is particularly comfortable if you are walking for any length of time. Students should always use both straps when carrying a backpack.

If you are in the habit of carrying a bag or backpack on one shoulder, consider the alternatives before spinal problems begin. If you have been carrying a shoulder bag for some time, you should see your chiropractor to correct any imbalances which have already been set up, and to prevent painful episodes in the future.

Dr. Karin Mattern

6543 Portsmouth Rd.

Nanaimo, BC

V9T 1C4

250-933-3443

drkarin@shaw.ca

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