Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | June 17, 2013

Good Ergonomics is “in the Bag”

Large Tote Purse

A Big Fashion Trend for the summer is the new Minimalist Mini Me Handbag. Cross body bags and shrunken versions of the full size styles are replacing the heavy “everything but the kitchen sink” totes.  You might wonder why I bring this up and what does it have to do with ergonomics?

Well, what’s an easier way to unload five pounds for the summer but to get one of these new handbags?  According to Karen Erickson, spokeswoman for the American Chiropractic Association, an average handbag weighs from 3 – 5 pounds with some women lugging around twice that amount of weight.  She recommends handbags carried on a single shoulder shouldn’t exceed 5 % of a person’s body weight.

What woman hasn’t experienced muscle pain, headaches, neck and shoulder pain?  What a surprise when your hand bag might be the culprit.  Go ahead; lift your favorite bag onto that scale . . . don’t be embarrassed when it weighs over 5 pounds.

Slave to Fashion

Become a slave to fashion and improve your health.  When you think of ergonomics, proper posture comes to mind immediately.  According to the Wall Street Journal June 6, 2013 issue, the fastest growing segment of the $6 billion handbag industry is the cross-body bag.The appeal is the ability to be hands-free but also amazingly refreshed while walking unencumbered.

According to Dr. Erickson, the ability to walk with arms swinging freely in a “cross crawl” pattern synchronizes both sides of the brain, promoting relaxation.  Isn’t that what summer is all about?

Consider these other ways to reduce the physical strain of carrying a heavy handbag presented by Dr. Erickson well worth repeating.

  • Use a bag with a thick shoulder strap to distribute weight evenly.
  • Empty your handbag daily removing items collected throughout the day.
  • If walking, switch shoulders you use – to carry your bag – as often as every few blocks.
  • Find time to walk each day without a bag to give your body a break.
  • If your upper shoulder or neck start to feel strain, carry your bag in your arms, like a baby to give your muscles a break.
  • Consider the bag’s hardware which might add extra ounces before you put anything in the bag.

With small being the next big thing, consider your options in the small-bag world.  Why not rotate between your full size versions?  You’ll give your body a well-earned rest as you adjust the size of your bag to meet your different needs.

“Ergonomics is for the world we live in not just for where we work. . .”


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