Best Health

PURSE SHOPPING FOR YOUR HEALTH? WE’RE SERIOUS

- by INGRIE WILLIAMS

BOSS BAG, , HUGOBOSS.COM

Your bag can be a pain in the neck — and back and shoulders for that matter, but it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to baggage, variety is the spice of health: Mix up your styles to alleviate repetitive strain. Ready to go bag shopping? Read on for the latest in style and comfort.

THE TOTE

This structured shape is a beloved go-to, and an effortless plus one for any outfit. As the roomiest of handbags, a classic tote also provides a sense of being prepared for anything because it takes everything thrown in it, from wallet to water bottle.

IN GOOD STANDING

Loaded up and slung over one shoulder, it’s easy to see how a tote bag can do your body a disservice. Size matters when it comes to finding one that’ll be kind. “The smaller, the better, because you’re going to put less stuff in it,” says Dr. Debbie Wright, owner of Bayview Chiropract­ic in Courtenay, B.C., and second vice-chair with the Canadian Chiropract­ic Associatio­n Board. Taking a cue from adult backpack guidelines, carrying a bag that’s 10 percent of your body weight is ideal. Wider straps (better at dispersing weight) are an important detail, as is a comfortabl­e fit between bag and body. “You want to make sure it’s the right length to hit you at the part of your body where you can tuck it away,” she says, “but you really want to try and switch shoulders periodical­ly — every block or two, or every ten minutes. I tell patients the next posture is the best posture.

The more that you can switch it up — and change the stresses on your body — the better it is going to be able to adapt,” says Dr. Wright.

THE TOP-HANDLE

With high standing in fashion history, when it’s sophistica­tion you long for this bag delivers. Foldover styles carry a distinctly retro charm, while a modern take can be found in silhouette­s featuring clean lines. The refined finishing touch of a tophandle bag will always elevate a look.

IN GOOD STANDING

A healthy relationsh­ip with this type of bag comes down to how you interact with it. Dr. Wright signs off on carrying a top-handle bag in one hand — as long as you’re alternatin­g limbs and it’s not too heavy, she says. Prone to draping a bag over a forearm or nestling it in the crook of an elbow? Mayday! That qualifies as direct pressure that enters the danger zone. “You can actually get physical nerve impingemen­t if you’re doing that for a really long period of time, or the bag hits your arm in the right way,” she says, “You’re holding the entire weight of your purse up with the small muscles of your arm, which aren’t necessaril­y designed to lift that amount for that long. You run the risk of overusing and fatiguing the forearm and bicep; muscles that aren’t designed for constant contractio­ns,” she says. Use awareness to play it safe: pack light and rotate sides if you’re standing for prolonged intervals. “Some minor modificati­ons can get you through the day without any issues,” she says.

THE CROSS-BODY

Worn across the body, this bag earns praise because it lets you operate hands-free. A wide range of sizes and styles mean there’s no shortage of appealing options, from ultra-compact to strikingly embellishe­d.

IN GOOD STANDING

Ergonomica­lly, this bag is on the right track. “The diagonal distributi­on of weight is way better for the body,” says Dr. Wright. Wider straps also make a difference, and a truly winning design is highly customizab­le. “Find something that has a long enough strap to fit across the body but also gives you the option to be carried by hand,” she says. “You want to keep moving, you don’t want to be in one posture for too long without changing it up. That’s really where a lot of our problems come from.” To counterbal­ance daily strains, Dr. Wright encourages spending a few minutes completing simple, gentle stretches — a task easily accomplish­ed with the free Straighten Up Canada app. Her favourite moves, the Bending Star and Twisting Star, help rotate the back and realign the shoulders. “You’re moving into positions you wouldn’t normally if you’re walking around carrying a purse,” she says. “They’ll get you out of slouchy mode and activate muscles; and help reverse some of the postures we spend most of our days in.”

THE BACKPACK

There’s a blissful sense of being unencumber­ed that only a backpack can provide. Your hands are free, you can slip through a crowd, and all your necessitie­s are secured within easy reach. When a non-bulky shape joins forces with a pleasant hue or texture, casual meets chic for an essential that’s brilliant for traveling near, or far.

IN GOOD STANDING

Get ready to say ahhh. “Backpacks are the best way to carry things because they’re set up in a way that’s more ergonomica­lly happy for your body," says Dr. Wright. “If you use one properly you’re going to distribute weight over your entire torso, and really decrease stress on the neck, shoulders and back,” she says. Wide, padded straps yield maximum comfort, and adjustable ones earn top marks, too. “You want it positioned in the small of your back. A close fit is going to be better for posture and to walk with to decrease the chances of having any sort of pain or problem,” she says. “Get the central amount of weight not so low that it’s pulling you back, and not too high. If you’re carrying something really heavy, place that closest to your back so you’re putting weight closer to your center of gravity.”

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