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Lessen the Effects of Carrying Heavy Bags

By Rachel Carver

A heavy bag can take on many forms. From backpacks to purses to laptop bags -- any bag that is too heavy can have serious consequences to the health of your spine.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, your bag should not weigh more than 10 percent of your body weight. Exceeding this weight can negatively affect three main body areas.

Neck

Carrying a heavy bag for too long can strain the trapezius shoulder muscle. The trapezius muscle helps with moving, rotating, and stabilizing the shoulder. Carrying something heavy on the same side will cause the trapezius muscle on that side to become larger than the other. The muscles have to compensate for the extra weight, which can cause painful spinal spasms to radiate into your neck.

High and Low Shoulders

The extra weight on one side of your body from the bag will cause your neck and shoulders to lift up. Using one shoulder too long will strain muscles and give you pain, which might need to be treated by a chiropractor. One shoulder might also sit higher than the other.

Waist Muscle Tension

The body naturally bends toward the side carrying the heavier load. To balance the spine, muscles on the other side will become tense, tightening one part of the muscle while loosening the other. This can eventually cause inflammation and dislocation of small spinal joints. Long-term shifting of force can change spinal mechanics, leading to scoliosis if not treated.

Whether your shoulder or neck pain is a result of carrying a heavy bag or an injury, don't delay taking action. Head to The Joint Chiropractic clinic near you for treatment. The Joint team will identify the cause of your pain and create a plan to get you feeling better.

In addition to a visit to the chiropractor, here are some additional tips to lessen the wear and tear of heavy bags on your body.

Switch it Up

It is natural for us -- especially people carrying purses -- to use the same shoulder. Make a conscious effort to switch shoulders frequently to avoid muscle strain and fatigue. This will also develop muscles equally on each shoulder.

Lighten the Load

Purses and backpacks often pick up extra items. Clean out your backpack after your work week. Prioritize the items you need, depending on where you are going. Consider keeping a work handbag separate from the one you use on the weekends.

Be Particular About the Strap

Use a bag with a wider strap whenever possible, at least two inches if possible. Wider straps protect the delicate nerves between the neck and shoulders. You also feel the strain more with thin straps, which is not practical for longer outings.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Pasadena, Tex.

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