The Danger of Heavy Bags

March 19, 2019

The Danger of Heavy Bags-Leafy Souls Vegan Blog Post

You’ve been there before. You love yourbig bag. If you leave the house with nothing and decide to go shopping, you have somewhere to put your things. If you have to go to class and that book just won’t fit into a smaller bag - you have room to fit books, pencils, keys, phone, and journal in the one place without squeezing anything. If it is a hot day and you don’t want to tie your sweater around your waist and ruin your outfit, you can leave it in your bag. And of course, if you are getting on a plane that allows carry-ons, you can throw in the extra stuff that doesn’t fit into your luggage.

But once it is filled, so are you - with regret.

Breaking the Fabric

Let’s start with the most basic issue. You have a large handbag, whether it is for practical reasons or just following a fashion trend. It’s made out of strong fabrics and you spend good money on it to be so. You walk around day by day and suddenly you notice that your bag, which is pretty heavy, is starting to rip at the seams. Heartbreaking.

You try to unload the weight, but it is too late. The damage has been done and your bag has to be fixed or replaced.

Muscle Pain

No matter how well someone eats, or how much exercise they do, a lot of people still find themselves with muscle spasms and pain. Your neck and shoulders are already prone to stress. The last thing they both need is for you to add a heavy bag in the mix. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the bag you carry should only weigh 10% of your body weight. Not only that, but carrying a bag on one shoulder strains the left or right side of the whole body. The weight should be less than 10% or divided into two bags so that each shoulder can share the weight.

Bags can weigh as much as a newborn baby. Schoolbags (which would usually be carried on both shoulders) were once heavy with school books. Children would leave whichever books they didn’t need at school so they could avoid carrying heavy objects.  Now, they are heavy with laptops that never leave a person's sight, Laptops are always in the bag with an average weight of 3,5kg. Other modern objects found in bags are phones, cameras, and headphones - all adding their own weight to the person carrying them.

A study done by Dr. Deepak Sharan of Bangalore-based RECOUP Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation Centre demonstrated that back and posture problems are increasing in students who carry heavy bags. Students would finish the day with pressure marks on their neck and shoulder as a result of using the straps of the backpack. Other ailments included stooping postures and pain and stiffness in the neck.

The Trapezius

The trapezius is an important muscle for moving, rotating and stabilizing the shoulder. The frequent use of heavy bags forces the muscle to become bigger and strained. This causes muscle spasms, or worse, misalignment of the spine. If you are carrying a heavy bag, make sure to do plenty of exercise including yoga sun salutations.

"Most of us do end up carrying an uneven load which can cause anything from back pain, repetitive strain injury of the neck and shoulder, to major spine misalignment issues," says Dr. Dhananjay Gupta, orthopedic consultant, Orthonova Hospital.

Helping Friends

It’s so handy to have a big bag, and everyone else knows it.

It’s one thing to carry your own belongings, it’s another to carry everyone else’s. When you have a big bag, the question “do you mind putting this in your bag?” rings over and over again. You want to say no - past experience has shown that you should - but of course, you say yes. Low and behold your bag is filled to the brim, on the verge of breaking and adds extra weight to your back and shoulders. Most people don’t even realize what they are asking or the strain that is being put on your body.

How to Avoid

This may sound quite simple, but a lot of people find it hard to refrain from putting too much in their bags. Check the weight of your bag before going out. If it is more than 10% of your body weight, then get rid of what you don’t really need.  Carrying bags with wider straps protects the delicate nerves that pass from the neck to the shoulders.

Remember to switch sides every 10 minutes so that you divide the strain evenly. Do exercises every day so that you give you back, neck and shoulders some relief. And finally, ask someone to carry the bag for you for a bit - especially if they have their own things in there too.

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