Rid yourself of back pains and aches with tips on how to carry your favourite bags

STUFFING handbags to bursting point could be putting your health at risk. It is not only what we take with us, but how we hold our bags that might cause aches and pains.

Abby McHale asks Marc Sanders, from the British Chiropractic Association, for advice on the safest ways to carry arm candy.


A good option, as these also spread weight more evenly instead of relying on one shoulder
  • Cross-body, £20, Primark – buy now

Marc says: “Place it over one shoulder and have the bag land on the side of your hip but no lower, as this can pull the shoulder down. Prolonged postures tend to provoke neck and back pain due to lack of movement.”

Do: Make sure bag sits on the hip, put it down frequently.

Don’t: Let it hang below hip, wear it without a break.



They are among the most popular types of bag to wear on a daily basis
  • Shoulder bag, £28, River Island – buy now

Marc says: “Invest in a bag with a long strap so you can wear it as a cross-body, helping to distribute weight. Keep shoulders relaxed. Swap sides regularly.

Do: Alternate which side you carry it on and use the cross-body strap if it is an option.

Don’t: Overfill it, making it heavy, or hunch shoulders.


Take the stress away from travelling by holding your suitcase the right way
  • Suitcase, £35, Primark – buy now

Marc says: “Always lift with your legs. When buying a case look for the lightest bag possible and one with four wheels. If possible, pushing your suitcase instead of pulling can help to prevent your back from twisting, the newer style of suitcases with four wheels can help to reduce the load on your back.”

Do: Look for cases with four wheels, lift with your legs.

Don’t: Buy a suitcase that’s heavy even when empty

Clutch (£25, Faith at Debenhams)

A clutch bag is relatively easy on your back – but keep it close
  • Clutch, £25, Debenhams – buy now

Marc says: “The closer a bag is to your body, the better it is for your posture. Holding a bag further away can add strain to your back.

“However, there isn’t a perfect posture or way to carry a clutch. What matters most is the variety of positions and to modify the load. Injuries tend to occur when we use too much load, for too long, and too often.”

Do: Hold the bag close to your body, gripping it under the arm.

Don’t: Overfill it, carry it for too long or in the same position.


Backpacks Spread weight evenly across the back as they are designed to be worn on both shoulders, with the adjustable straps helping to place the rucksack in the right place for maximum support
  • Backpack, £19.99, New Look – buy now

Marc says: “The best ways to minimise strain, is to have the rucksack high on your back and no lower than your waist to even out the weight.” And if you use one every day, Marc recommends a specialist style with “well-padded shoulder straps and a waist strap, because if you regularly carry large items, this allows the load to be efficiently distributed”.

Do: Wear using both shoulder straps, sit it high on your back and not lower than the waist.

Don’t: Let it hang on the lower back, or wear it slung over just one arm.



A big trend, perfect for dancing hands-free at festivals
  • Bumbag, £15, Asos.com – buy now

Marc says: “Wear it clipped around your waist for even distribution, There’s a phrase now, ‘your best posture is your next posture’ – i.e. keep moving by varying the way you stand.”

Do: Keep moving while wearing a bumbag.

Don’t: Overfill it, especially when wearing it over your shoulder.


Top handle

Classic handbags can be harmful, as they put their whole weight on one side of the body
  • Top handle, £10, Primark – buy now

Marc says: “To avoid neck strain, try carrying your bag like a clutch – the closer to your body it is, the less pressure it puts on your neck, shoulders and back.”

Do: Carry it close to the body, change its positioning and the weight it holds.

Don’t: Overpack it, or carry it in the same hand all day.


A holdall is a good option for a weekend away - but because it’s bigger, it means we can be guilty of filling it up more and making it heavier
A holdall is a good option for a weekend away – but because it’s bigger, it means we can be guilty of filling it up more and making it heavier
  • Holdall, £89, Radley – buy now

Marc says: “To avoid injuring yourself, make use of the long strap and wear it across your body.”

Do: Pack light. Look for one with wheels or extend the strap to wear as a crossbody.

Don’t: Carry it on one shoulder all day or overfill it.



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