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Is my bag too heavy?

Whether you’re carrying it for school, work, or just day-to-day errands, it can be tempting to overstuff your bag with things you think you might need, “just in case”. This might seem harmless enough, but if you are carrying these bags all day long, it can have negative effects on your health. Odds are that if you’re asking if your bag is too heavy, it probably is, but in this blog, we’re going to look at several signs that your bag might be too heavy.


Neck & Shoulder Pain

Whether it’s a hand-held bag or one that is strapped across one or both shoulders, a bag that is too heavy will frequently cause pain in the neck & shoulder area. Carrying a backpack that is overloaded will cause you to hunch over, which can quickly lead to pain at the base of your neck. A messenger bag strapped across your shoulder will pull against your neck, and cause your body to lean to one side, which can result in a dull ache in one shoulder. A handbag can also pull your arm down and cause you to lean to one side, and while you may think switching it from hand to hand is helpful, it will still result in pain if it is too heavy.

One of the clearest signs that a strapped bag is too heavy is seeing a bright red mark on your shoulder at the end of the day. Sometimes the area may even appear indented. If this is the case, you definitely need to lighten your bag as soon as possible.

Arms

Another sign that a heavy bag may be having detrimental effects on your health is numbness or tingling in your arms, hands, and fingers. You may think this is because the bag has cut off circulation, like when you sleep on your arm, but the reality is much worse. Straps being pulled down by a heavy bag can put quite a lot of pressure on your muscles, which can pinch your nerves and cause that numb/tingling sensation. Over time, this can cause nerve damage, which can take a long time to heal, and will only get worse if you continue to lug around the heavy bag.

Headaches

A lot of things can cause headaches, and you might not make the connection between a sore head and a heavy bag. The stress your bag can put on your body, particularly the neck and shoulders, can actually result in headaches due to a process known as referred pain, where pain is experienced in a body part other than the actual source of pain. If you frequently experience headaches on days when you have been carrying a heavy bag, there is a good chance that may be the problem.

It can be tempting to fill your bag with everything you might need, but a lot of the time, you won’t use most of the stuff you put in there. It is generally recommended that you don’t allow the weight of your bag to exceed 10% of your body weight, so if you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms, break out the weighing scales, and figure out how much of the stuff in your bag you really need to carry around.