Lugging around gigantic totes filled with everything but the kitchen sink will wreck your back, neck and shoulders. This concerned Oprah, who recently asked New York based chiropractor Isis M. Medina how to find a handbag that won’t hurt your back. Medina suggested we follow a set of healthy handbag guidelines when choosing our bag and I found seven of her ten points particularly interesting:

  • Your weight and your fate: you shouldn’t tote more than 10% of your body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, your handbag and it’s contents should weigh no more than 15 pounds.
  • Getting a handle: long strapped shoulder bags are bad because they tug you to one side causing your shoulders to hunch. Short handled bags that aren’t too flimsy or narrow are a better choice.
  • The test drive: make sure that you can use Medina’s three approved positions for a short-handled bag:
    • Over your shoulder and tucked under your arm
    • Over your forearm (or in the crook of your elbow)
    • Held in your hand
  • Compact models: shape and dimensions matter less than how the bag meshes with your body. Your bag should find “that sweet spot” on your body and be comfortable to carry.
  • No feed bags: structured bags are better than slouchy ones because they keep their contents stable, which in turn keeps you balanced and your back aligned.
  • Easy access: rummaging around in a handbag causes your torso to twist and distort. It’s therefore important that the contents of your handbag are organized for simple and efficient retrieval.
  • Low bulk components: bags that are soft, lightweight and mold to your body are best. In this way, your arm stays by your side comfortably without having to stick out unnaturally. Bags with heavy hardware or other chunky components therefore tend to be unhealthy choices.

Medina further suggested that buying an expensive handbag is not necessarily the solution. A modestly priced handbag can be healthy and chic. It’s also important to balance the load that your body is carrying equally on both sides.

I’m pleased to announce that my handbags (plus their contents) weigh well below 10% of my body weight. When did you last put your handbag on the scale?