Bag Drag

If you’ve ever found yourself carrying a bag, slumped over your shoulder and full of heavy items and (if you’re anything like me) full of unnecessary things, you may find yourself experiencing pain or discomfort through the shoulder, neck and upper back throughout the day. Slinging a bag over the shoulder will compress the shoulder joint as well as load the muscles of the neck. If you wear a tool belt or utility belt you ill often experience discomfort through the hips, lower back and lateral side of the legs.

Whether you are like Mary Poppins with a bottomless pit of a handbag, a diligent uni student with text books in tow, a hipster with their laptop bag or a tradie with a toolbelt, let me assure you, slight changes and adaptations now, will ensure you have a pain free and headache free future.

  1. Lighten the load-  Ideally the weight of your bag should be no more than 10 % of your body weight. Empty your bag or toolbelt on a table in front of you and take a look at all of the items you are carrying around on a daily basis (sometimes for long periods at a time). Place into piles those items that are absolutely necessary and those which you use on occasion and then a pile for items which have no practical purpose or have no purpose for being part of your daily haul whatsoever. You will be amazed at what you are carrying around (trust me, I once found a plastic knife and fork in case there was a surprise cheesecake, a tub a playdough, an empty tissue box and two novels which I still haven’t read) I’m sure you’re not all carrying items like this around but it does help to take stock of that extra weight you are lugging around and what you are able to get rid of to lighten up your load.


  1. Sharing is caring- be aware that throughout the day we do tend to favour one side to sling our bags over or to hold majority of the weight if you are wearing a tool belt or carrying heavy text books around. Be mindful of this and try your best to switch the load from one side to the other every 10 minutes. If you are not too fashion conscious or are able to swap to a backpack, two straps are better than one and will enable you to evenly distribute the load without too much effort. However, even though backpacks are larger, try not to overload these and keep the weight to the 10% of your body weight rule. If you need any more convincing of the 2 straps is better than one method, please follow this link (you can’t go wrong with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill)


  1. Last but not least Be mindful of your posture when you are carrying a bag, unfortunately it has become the norm for us to slouch and lean to help bear the loads we put in our bags to enable stability and balance when we walk, this is not ok and will lead to discomfort throughout the day and poor posture over time. Take time to readjust your posture, stand up tall and ask yourself, “do I need everything in this bag” and “how long has it been since I switched sides”.


Taking a few minutes out of your day to do these few things will help lighten your load and reduce the effect your heavy bag has on your muscles and overall health and wellbeing.


Danielle Guy

Occupational Therapist

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