Style & Beauty

The Best And Worst Bags And Purses For Your Back

A chiropractor breaks down the good, the bad and the consequences of something we're all guilty of: carrying a bag that's too heavy.

This one goes out to anyone who has ever been asked the eternal question: “What do you have in that bag, rocks?”

It’s no secret that carrying heavy bags and purses has health implications, but sometimes we don’t have an option. We have things to do and things to carry.

Steven Shoshany, a New York City-based chiropractor, told HuffPost that in the 20-plus years he’s been practicing, he’s seen the same patterns over and over again.

“Handbags come with the territory, but most of the time what I notice, beyond the bag itself, is that there’s way too much inside of it,” he said. The quickest fix is to go through and pull out what is not essential. And the smaller the bag the better, as it encourages you to carry less.

As Atlanta-based chiropractor Robert A. Hayden told HuffPost back in 2013, your purse should never be more than 10% of your body weight, and 5% is recommended.

That’s a nice concept, but what if you absolutely, positively need every single thing that’s in there? Shoshany has a few pieces of advice when it comes to the type of bag you’re using.

“Use crossbody over a tote, for sure,” he said. “If you have a bag closer to your body, wear [the strap] on the left shoulder with the bag on the right (editor’s note: or vice versa). It’s more ergonomic and the weight will be evenly distributed.”

Shoshany also recommends switching a bag carried on the shoulder from side to side to prevent fatigue.

He advises against hanging a bag on your lower arm. “If you’re carrying a bag on your arm, it can cause wrist, shoulder, elbow and neck issues. You’re using more muscles to carry it, whereas with a crossbody you’re just using your body.”

Above all, try to use a backpack, although Shoshany acknowledges it’s “maybe not the most fashionable or practical.”

There’s also the weight of the bag itself to consider. Shoshany suggests looking for bags that are lighter but still have good structure. “I’ve seen bags where the bag is solid leather with support and structure, but by the time you put stuff in it it’s overwhelmingly heavy,” he said. On the other hand, he said, in an unstructured bag, “the weight can be pushed to one side and not [hang] even.”

When buying a crossbody bag, Shoshany said to look out for the type of straps it has. “The wider the strap, the better,” he said. “It covers more surface area and the weight is more evenly dispersed.”

If all this sounds like something you don’t need to worry about today, think again. The long-term damage from carrying too heavy a bag can include arthritis and rotator cuff tears. “Prevention is a lot better than trying to go back and fix the problem,” Shoshany said.

Check out some of our favorite crossbody bags and backpacks below.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.

MZ Wallace Small Sutton Bag
Pincnel Waterproof Nylon Anti-Theft Backpack
Target Zip-Closure Crossbody Bag
Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack
Lululemon All-Night Festival Bag
Cuyana Leather Backpack