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Do You Suffer From HPS...? (Heavy Purse Syndrome)

by Abe Chevlen on October 08, 2018

Learn how to travel lighter and discover new ways to save your spine. Follow these easy steps to drop some pounds.

Watch Your Weight
Your bag, ideally, should weigh no more than 10 percent of your body weight or 10 pounds, whichever is less. A quick way to gauge if you’re carrying too much? Hold your bag in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other.

“The bag shouldn’t weigh much more than the jug,” says Prather. (One gallon weighs 8.3 pounds.) To shed some weight, you’ll need to make some tough decisions. Do you really need your cell phone, spare shoes, full makeup kit, and novel all the time? “

On some days, leave at least one of those at home or perhaps tucked in the glove compartment or an office drawer,” says Prather.

Minimize Your Makeup
“If you’re hauling around your entire vanity, it’s time to pare down. Your on-the-go kit should contain just the key items you need for touch-ups,” says makeup artist and author Bobbi Brown, who’s known for her minimalist approach.

For most women, that means carrying a small pouch with concealer, pressed powder, blush, and a single lipstick or gloss. “If you have to rifle through your bag to find your makeup, you’re probably carrying too much of it,” says Brown.




Declutter Daily
“At the end of every day, take one minute to remove unnecessaries from your handbag,” says organization expert Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer ($11, ).

If you wait until the end of the week, it will take more time. And before you know it, you will have amassed a dozen receipts, a handful of pens, a few dollars’ worth of loose change, and a half-full water bottle or two. “That can add up to a pound of stuff you don't need,” says Smallin.

Choose a Smart Style
The best way to avoid pain is to keep the weight of your bag centered on your body. Imagine that your spine is a stack of blocks. If you carry a heavy load on one side, whether on your shoulder or in one hand, those blocks—your vertebrae—get yanked into a column that’s not neatly balanced.

“Your body makes accommodations to bear the weight, which means muscles and ligaments become unbalanced, then your posture shifts, resulting in tension that builds up over time,” says Mary Ann Wilmarth, a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapist Association and the director of the physical-therapy program at Northeastern University, in Boston.

“The safest carryall is a small, light backpack,” Wilmarth says, “since it encourages you to keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down.”

If a backpack isn’t your style, opt for a messenger bag with a long, adjustable strap. That will allow you to distribute the weight of the bag between one shoulder and the opposite hip, and you can wear it close to your body. Before you even start loading the bag with your stuff, consider its size and material, as well as its bells and whistles.

Even if you don’t carry much, many leather styles are heavier empty than are lightweight nylon, cotton, or canvas ones. “If you want a huge bag with lots of pockets and buckles, I won’t try to talk you out of it,” says Prather, “but you should be even more vigilant about what you put inside.” If you carry a computer and lots of paperwork and you don’t want a backpack, consider a rolling bag.

Divide and Conquer
“It’s easier on your back and neck if you carry two five-pound bags, one in each hand, than one 10-pounder,” says Patrice Winter, a physical therapist and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. Also, make use of pockets when you can.

“If you can put your sunglasses and keys in a coat pocket and clip your cell phone to your belt, you’ve reduced the weight of the bag hanging off your shoulder by as much as a half pound,” says Winter.



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