Your handbag could give you a pain in the neck

You may be eating and exercising right. But if you are not careful about the weight you carry in your handbag, you could end up with pain in your shoulder, neck and back.

Doctors say improper handbag use, especially ones that carry more weight than the prescribed five to 10 per cent of the body weight, could result in disproportionate muscle development, leading to spine, neck and backbone problems.

S. Balaji Pai, head of the Department of Neurosurgery at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, says a heavy handbag can even affect the posture and the way you walk, as it could result in a tendency to bend forward.

“In children, heavy bags could lead to acquired deformities and disproportionate muscle development,” says Dr. Pai, who also heads the Emergency Trauma Care Centre in Victoria Hospital.

Long-term use of handbags will cause muscle imbalances, especially in the trapezius muscle. This can cause neck and lower back muscle stiffness, which can gradually lead to spinal column degeneration, the doctor says.

Ravikumar Mukartihal, consultant orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon, Sparsh Group of Hospitals, says to maintain correct posture and a perfect balance, your arms and legs should swing along with the body when you walk. “But, when you carry a handbag on one side of the shoulder, it means that you will not be able to move that arm properly and the opposite shoulder or arm has to swing more to compensate. This will lead to imbalance in walking and change the way you walk,” he says. Ajit Benedict Royan, medical director of Hosmat Hospital, says he has been seeing several patients with shoulder pain. “It is advisable for people to carry minimum weight. Also, it is better to shift the bag from one shoulder to another periodically. Use bags with longer and wider straps so that it can be laid across the body,” he adds.



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