Up Your Bag Game, Not Your Back Pain

Is your handbag too heavy to handle?

"Fail to prepare, prepare to fail". No phrase could epitomise the women’s handbag more. They're so much more than a fashion accessory; they're the personal organisers that prepare us for every eventuality and a tool to help us navigate the world. 

Here at Aspinal of London, we know the importance of a woman’s handbag, but far too often we are carrying ‘everything but the kitchen sink’. Our research shows us that UK women carry 17 items with them on a daily basis, lumping around a total load of over 3kg which is causing over 63% of us to suffer from back pain.

Do you want to know how much your handbag weighs?

Handbag calculator

THE AVERAGE UK WOMAN’S HANDBAG HAUL REVEALED

Women have a reputation for carrying items ‘just in case’ and much like Mary Poppins we’re known for pulling out any wonder of objects at a given request. Umbrella on a summer’s day? Check. A busting leather purse full of receipts from the last six months? Probably. And then there’s snacks… obviously.

If you need it, we’ve probably got it.

We analysed the handbags of over a thousand women around the UK, to find out what items they carry with them on a regular basis, how much they think those items equate to in weight, as well as asking if they suffer from back and shoulder pain.

The results might surprise you…

WHO CARRIES THE HEAVIEST BAGS?

We also looked regionally at which cities had the highest average bag weight and are therefore most at risk of back and shoulder pain. Brighton came out on top for having the heaviest bags on average, weighing over 2.2kg, whilst Glasgow reported the highest percentage of women experiencing back pain.

Where does your city come in the running?

HOW HEAVY IS YOUR HANDBAG?

Have you ever wondered how much your bag weights compared to the average UK woman? Well, look no further.

Our clever calculator will help you figure out how much extra weight you’re carrying around with you.

Just tick what you take with you on a daily basis and we’ll reveal how much it weighs, how you compare to the UK average and suggest some top tips to reduce the risk of back pain from an expert Physiotherapist.

THE HANDBAG CALCULATOR

How heavy is your handbag?

Select any items you carry in your bag on a daily basis:

    • Purse
    • Keys
    • Umbrella
    • Gloves
    • Pen
    • Diary
    • A book
    • Metal straw
    • Lighter
    • Cigarettes
    • Vape pen
    • Glasses/glasses case
    • Sunglasses
    • Re-usable shopping bag
    • Mobile phone (personal)
    • Mobile phone (work)
    • Earphones
    • Over ear headphones
    • Phone battery pack
    • Phone charger
    • Laptop
    • Laptop charger
    • Kindle
    • Hairbrush
    • Compact Mirror
    • Body Spray
    • Perfume 50ml
    • Tube of hand-cream
    • Hair bobbles
    • Lipstick
    • Lip balm
    • Concealer
    • Mascara
    • Powder
    • Bronzer
    • Blusher
    • Highlighter
    • Eyeshadow pallete
    • Foundation
    • Eyebrow pencil/gel
    • Eye liner
    • Tampons
    • Pads
    • Paracetamol
    • Hand Sanitiser
    • Vitamins
    • Plasters
    • Tissues
    • Contraceptive pill
    • Condoms
    • Baby wipes
    • Nappies
    • Dummy
    • Emergency knickers & clothes (for kids)
    • Emergency sweets for kids
    • Drink
    • Suncream
    • Water bottle
    • Chewing Gum
    • Mints
    • Chocolate bar
    • Crisps
    • Tupperware (e.g. homemade lunch)
    • Piece of fruit
    • Leggings
    • T-shirt
    • Sports bra
    • Hoodie / jumper
    • Trainers
    • Small towel
    • Large towel
    • Mini shower gel
    • Mini shampoo
    • Mini conditioner
    • Hairbrush
    • Deodorant/body spray
    • Padlock
    • Earphones
    • Over ear headphones

Your bag weighs approx X.XXkg

Your bag is the same as the UK average

You are at medium risk of back/shoulder pain

Your bag is heavier than average and could be a cause for concern.

To put it in perspective, the average human head weighs 2kg, so your shoulders are already carrying that weight and therefore any additional load will put further strain on your neck and shoulders which could have long-term effects including: neck and upper back pain, shoulder impingement and stretching of the nerves down the neck and arm, which can cause inflammation of the nerve roots.

If you feel any tightness or discomfort at the end of the day, carve out some time in the evening to try out the stretches below.

HOW TO PREVENT BACK AND SHOULDER PAIN

Doug Jones

Sports Physiotherapist at the Manchester Institute of Health & Performance operated by HCA Healthcare UK.

"Back pain is common in the UK with one in three adults getting it every year and carrying heavy bags – especially if you tend to carry them on the same shoulder day-in day-out, it could be problematic for your posture and in some cases, could even cause long term damage.

Time is an important factor that could easily be overlooked. As a general rule you shouldn’t do the same action for continuous periods of time that extend for longer than 40 minutes, and it’s the same concept when carrying a bag, particularly when carrying it on one side of your body.

That said, different weights will have varying effects on everyone because of their strength, how active they are and how long they carry a heavy handbag for, so it’s important to consider these tips and how they might apply to you and your lifestyle."

Tip #1

Consider carrying a rucksack, or cross body bag, as a handbag isn’t balanced and can cause postural imbalance as well as issues in the neck and upper back.

Tip #2

Do you need to carry every item every day? If you can, take regular breaks from carrying your handbag altogether. If you’re going for a walk or popping to the shop, could you just carry your purse or keys in a pocket instead?

Tip #3

Each evening, empty out your handbag completely and only refill it with the essential items you need for the following day. You’ll likely be surprised how many non-essentials creep in over the course of a week.

EXERCISES AND STRETCHES FOR BACK PAIN

If you experience back pain, it’s important to stay active. Not only is exercise great for your overall health and mental wellbeing, it may help to reduce back pain and prevent it coming back. Try some of these simple stretches to reduce tension.

  • Upper Trapezius Stretch

    With one hand on the shoulder you want to stretch and the other on top of your head with your fingers pointing towards the back, gently pull your head forward with your chin toward your neck as if you were nodding. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. For a side stretch, pull your head to the side so your ear approaches the opposite shoulder, and switch sides. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. For a diagonal stretch, pull your head diagonally forward so your chin approaches the opposite shoulder. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.

  • Scapula Pinch

    Sit on a bench with your back straight and your arms to your side. Arms should be at a 90-degree angle. Then, slowly move your arms backwards so your shoulder blades squeeze together. Return to starting position and repeat.

  • Doorway Pectoral Stretch

    Stand against the outer corner of a room or in a doorway, bend your right elbow at a 90-degree angle so your upper arm is parallel to the floor at shoulder height. Then, place your right forearm against the corner of the wall with your left side open to the room. Gently press into your right forearm as you lean your left side into the open space of the doorway or room to feel a stretch in your right pec. Hold 15 to 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.

These tips are given on an advisory basis and aren’t provided as a complete fix. If you’ve recently had a fall or accident or your symptoms persist beyond a few weeks, please visit the NHS website for more information on when to contact your GP.

Whether you’re a minimalist and opt for a mini bag every time, a maximalist who carries something for every eventuality and needs a large handbag or a modern professional who needs a business bag to keep up with their on-the-go lifestyle, we have a range of luxurious designer leather handbags for every occasion.

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