Our first topic is on purses and the second about backpacks. My patient Sheila had her daughter with her this week and her backpack must have weighed 30 pounds. She was leaning forward, rounding her back and straightening her neck to hold this weight. Over time, this will permanently cause spinal damage. It should be a major concern for parents and schools.

Next week I will be talking about safe travel tips on a Nationally Syndicated Radio Show called “Things You Should Know.” This will be our topic locally, next week for all of you lucky Spring Break travels. I am happy to travel with you as your insurance policy for an injury free trip. Just a thought.
“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product
of other activities.” – Aldous Huxley
For years I have lifted the curse many women bear. I have raised the beast that has held them down. I have taken suitcases on trips that were smaller than their everyday purses. If you need that much stuff you should either hire staff or drag a red wagon with you.
Hilariously, I have had women confess that they have a small purse that they bring in with them. They leave their posture-distorting, heavy bag hidden in the car. They just didn’t want me to see it. Some of these purses weigh 20, even 30 pounds or more! I have seen purses or carry-on bags that house everything, but the kitchen sink. Oh wait, there it is. The American Chiropractic Association states that a purse should be up to 10 percent of a woman’s bodyweight but no more than 15 pounds. Shoot for that.
We talked about the shoulder neck region and the delicate brachial plexus. This strap is pressing down on that area. Women typically carry that strap on one side of the body. It feels comfortable on one side of their body and it becomes a habit. However, switching shoulders is one way to evenly distribute the stress to the spine. Do it frequently.
If you routinely carry something heavy, be it a briefcase or monster purse, you will tip your body to help adjust for the additional weight. Over time you will train your body to change and the back will curve one way. You also raise your shoulder toward your neck to keep the strap in place and support the weight. When you hold any muscle in a contracted state, or a shortened position, for a certain length of time, that muscle will become tight and painful.
What do we really need? What could be stored in the car? Are there possibly any papers, photo albums, extra makeup items, shoes or snacks that could be removed? First I would start with the six dollars in change rumbling around in the abyss of your purse. Get a change purse and keep three quarters, four dimes, nickels and pennies. That is enough to get you through any purchase. Besides, my editor says, “Who uses cash? Debit and forget it.”
Are there books you carry but don’t ever really read? I just removed a stack of papers I carried around for a year in my briefcase and never read. I’m just as guilty.
Get a smaller purse or briefcase. The smaller the container, the less junk you can put in it. It’s kind of like a house. The bigger the house the more stuff you buy to put in to it. With a smaller bag you will need to decide what really is essential or plan a little wiser. Whatever you can do to lighten the load, besides bootin’ your spouse out, do so. It will help your posture and ease those tight shoulders.