So have you ever thought about your bag hurting your back? Nope, neither had I until I gave birth and started lugging about a change bag the approximate weight of an anvil. The bag easily weighed more than the child, it sat on one shoulder and it knocked my posture so off kilter that I could walk on both sides of the road at once.
Thankfully, as Kraken Junior has aged I’ve slowly managed to reduce my bag size. I no longer carry spare pants, snacks and colouring books and my fave bag is a teeny cross body number which just contains a purse, phone, pack of playing cards for KJ, a notebook, pens and a little bag of pear drops. And because I have done the Aspinal of London’s online handbag calculator (yes, it’s a Thing) I can also tell you that my bag is way below the UK average handbag weight so I’m also at low risk of back pain. If you want all of the riveting deets it also weighs just 0.99kilos. Check out this link if you also want to know whether you’re your bag is virtuous or murderous.
Fact is that however much you love a bag (especially if I’ve made it, natch), if it’s too heavy or you carry it awkwardly then it’ll do to your back and neck what Boris Johnson does to the definition of ‘honesty’. You’ll twist the shit out of it. So if you want to gad about with your fave tote or cross body slouch but without landing yourself in the local chiropractic clinic, here’s what you need to know about carrying it.
Stop your fave, say, llama bag hurting by keeping it as light as possible. Filling it with spuds from a market and lugging them from the car is OK once in a while but every day? It’ll stop you walking naturally because all of the weight is on one side of your body. Instead, empty it regularly or divvy up your spoils and carry a lighter bag in each hand. Don’t carry it in the crook of your arm either. It’ll bugger up the muscles in your arms. Instead, if the handles are too long for you to hold it at your side tie a knot in them to make them shorter.
Cross body bags
The joy of my cross body or messenger bags is that they carry all sorts of stuff while keeping your hands free. Just remember to routinely swap the side on which the body sits to stop your bag hurting you. I’ve seen advice that suggests swapping sides every 40 mins. The chances of you remembering that might be slim when you’re also frantically juggling kids or books so try changing up the position of the bag every day instead. Oh, and remember that the closer the bag is to your torso, the more control you have over it. Adjust the strap so that the bag is against your waist or hip rather than swinging wildly at bum-height.
Start by avoiding anything that slips easily off your shoulder. I’ve had bags like this in the past and I’ve ended up walking with one shoulder lifted just to keep it in place. Enough! Fabric straps stay in place longer than anything slippy like leather and the wider they are the better, too. Forget anything skinny, however fashionable it is. Try to think about when you will use the bag too. Will you be carrying it on your shoulder while wearing a slippy jacket, for example? If so, a different style of bag might be better. It also helps your posture if you keep your shoulder down and back while broadening through the chest.
If you want to stop your bag hurting you should also switch sides regularly although, I know, this takes practice because so many of us favour one side. And, yeah, don’t lug about anything you don’t have to. This is supposed to be fun, not punishment.
One of the tricks when buying a backpack is to find one with wide and comfy straps that are far apart. They spread the weight across your shoulders. It helps even more if you can bring yourself to use one with a waist strap because that also distributes the weight to your hips. Oh, and when you do carry your backpack, use both of the back straps, OK? Don’t just sling one over your shoulder. It might look cooler but it’s another recipe for a borked posture.
It’s also important to reduce the weight (I can’t repeat this enough) or at least spread and position the weight so that you body can support it. Put the heaviest items in your backpack closest to your centre of gravity (against your back in other words) and position the straps so that it sits high on your back rather than towards the waist.
Oh, and last thing: try not to lean forward when you carry your backpack. In fact, if your backpack does make you lean forward then you need to empty it out, get a pack that spreads the weight better or just try using a different style of bag. It’s that or start to look as if you’re trying to smell your own knees.
Of course, if you do want a bag that’s not going to wreck your back you could just ask me to make one for you. I can’t stop your bag hurting because you have filled it with bricks from B&Q (like I used to do with my backpack when I didn’t have a car ) but I can make straps to fit your shoulder width, bag bodies that won’t weigh you down cross body straps that are made-to-measure and totes that are the perfect fit for your height. All you have to do is let me know if you want to chat about what’s possible. You might even find this info about commissions helpful.
And don’t forget that the prices for tweaked bags are often exactly the same as the off-the-shelf ones you can find in my shop.
So what are you waiting for (apart from an appointment with a physiotherapist)? Clean out that bag, adjust those straps or ask me to make one for you. Either way, it’s time to walk tall, kraken lovers! Geddit? GEDDIT?