x-ray-of-woman-carrying-a-big-purse1The therapists at Hands On effectively treat and alleviate acute and chronic pain of musculoskeletal origin manifesting in almost any part of the body.  Myofascial Release is our most frequently used tool due to its effectiveness at getting to the source of the pain.  One of the challenges that we commonly encounter with both acute and chronic issues is uncovering the underlying posture or repetitive activity such as poor sitting, standing and bending habits, which are used over and over in our daily activities.  Most of us are now becoming aware of these “habits”, whether we address them or not.  What we are less aware of is how our clothing and accessories can contribute to these poor postural habits.  In a previous article, I addressed the problems associated with poor sitting posture.  In this article, we are going to look at something most women do every day, carry a hand bag, and how the way we carry our handbags causes underlying myofascial pain patterns.

Handbags size, shape and style vary as much as the women who are carrying them.  We put our most essential items in them.   We are students, mothers, executives, professionals.  Most of us are carrying some personal computer device as well as the normal essential items.  Generally we carry one bag on one shoulder.  The common postural compensation will be to hike that shoulder up to help carry the weight of the bag.  As we hike that shoulder up, we will generally lean to the opposite side.

The picture above shows it all.  Do you wonder why your neck or shoulder hurt?

Carrying a handbag is such a common, everyday habit to most of us that we don’t even consider it an issue as we go through our normal day to day activities.  Even when we are battling a chronic pain issue and are aware of posture and body mechanics.  These normal everyday activities- such as carrying a heavy handbag, having a wallet in the back pocket or holding a cell phone up with our shoulder,  slip under our radar because they are part of our routine.  Recently, I went to a fun, live theater event in Austin.  Taking the long trek back to our car after the show, I was thinking about this article, composing pieces in my head.  At that point, I realized that I was guilty of doing exactly what I was warning against in this article.  My favorite purse had become a receptacle for all of my important, must have items.  It was heavy and pulling me over to one side more and more the longer I carried it.  The point that I want to leave everyone with is  that finding the underlying piece that leads to unraveling a chronic pain patten most often involves an everyday, repetitive activity.  We don’t suspect it because we’ve been doing it for years, long before the pain may have set in.  Our body has the natural ability to compensate and self correct.  Many things that we do on a day to day basis are not necessarily the best for us.  It’s all about balance.  When we are in balance, things have a better chance of resolving.  When we are not in balance, things that may have not been a problem in the past all of a sudden are.

As a side note, we have been targeting women with handbags.  However, both men and women are carrying computer bags now which is the new “handbag” making both men and women equally prone to the problems associated with carrying handbags.

Jody Hendryx, PT, LMT