Big Purse, Big Shoes, Big Pain

Are you carrying around a purse that weighs more than 10 percent of your body weight? And are you doing that while wearing high heels with pointy toes? That’s asking an awful lot of your joints and muscles and may explain your neck and back pain.

“Large purses and briefcases can cause shoulder, neck, elbow and back pain, and even serious injury,” says Sara L. Edwards, orthopaedic surgeon and spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “And wearing poorly fitting shoes, especially those with high heels, platforms or pointed toes, can result in bunions, hammer toes, corns, knee and lower back pain and other conditions. I’ve seen many women with ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries from wearing wedge sandals and high heels. I’ve also seen men with foot conditions from ill-fitting dress or work shoes.” The AAOS has a few suggestions:

Handbag Tips

  • Pack heavier items low and toward the center
  • Wearing your purse on your shoulder is better than in the crook of your arm, but switch sides often
  • If you have a long strap, wear the bag diagonally over the opposite shoulder and hip

What’s Lurking on Your Purse?

It’s not that hard too lighten the load. Go through the items in your purse one by one — do you really need each item with you every day?

Backpack Tips

  • Backpacks should have two adjustable, padded shoulder straps.
  • Use compartments to distribute the weight.
  • Backpacks should not be carried over one shoulder.

Backpack Safety Tips

Get together with your kids and go through their backpacks. Make sure they’re not carrying around unnecessary items just because they don’t want to take the time to clear them out.

Shoe Tips

  • If you need to walk around a lot, don’t wear a heel higher than 2-1/4 inches.
  • If you prefer higher heels at work, wear a more comfortable pair for walking (you can keep the high heels at the office so you don’t have to carry an extra pair).
  • Make sure you buy shoes that fit properly — you should have wiggle room for your toes so they don’t feel pinched or cramped.
  • Choose shoes that support your arches.

How to Buy Children’s Shoes (video)
10 Things to Know About Flip-Flops (video)
5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wear High Heels and 2 Reasons You Probably Will

Some “fashionable” shoes are nothing short of torture devices. They may look pretty when you’re sitting down, but pay attention to how they make you walk and how they make you feel. It’s only going to get worse as you age.

Foot Tips

  • When your feet feel tired, give ‘em a break — elevate your feet and legs to relieve pressure.
  • Stretch your legs and feet in the morning, before you put on your shoes.
  • Heed warning signs from your feet — calluses, blisters, and localized swelling may be your feet crying out for help — consider buying some new shoes.

Tips to Avoid Foot Pain
Shocking Cosmetic Procedure For Feet (video)

The thing is, wearing high heels and carrying heavy bags throws your whole body out of alignment. If you’re hurting, listen to what your body is telling you.

Post Photo: Creatas Collection/Jupiterimages/Thinkstock


Edith B.
Edith B3 years ago

I only wear flats since I broke my ankle, but I do carry a heavy purse. I will change that tomorrow, maybe, love my purses.

Ramhit Oumar
Oumar R4 years ago

usually people watching in manhattan, people don't really give a yuck

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

I seldom wear heels--prefer comfort but do love my knapsacks large canvass bags which often are quite heavy. I'll have to make an effort to put so much in my bags-thanks

Yola Stavridou
.4 years ago

Already have bunions from wearing very high heels when I was younger.But to be honest I do miss the way they made my legs look !

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H4 years ago

This all makes sense. I gave up high heels years ago because I never did like them. Look at the shoes in the photo! How can anyone enjoy wearing them?

Heimei Yin
Heimei Y4 years ago

I think so,the heavy handbags and high heel shoes are harmful to our heathy.

Berry Katella
Michael DC5 years ago

If you are one of those fashion conscious,who loves to wear pointed shoes with heels and carry big bags then all this spells big problem for the back, neck and shoulders.This happened to a friend, who found that her back was very stressed because of high heels and a big bag. Thankfully she was recommended to go a to a chiropractor, who advised her to do away with all these things as her spine and knees were getting affected.He also adjusted her spine to give her constant relief,plus taught her a few exercises to strengthen her back muscles and also the ligaments of the knees.Thankfully she is much better now.

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M5 years ago

Thank you for pointing out the obvious. I gave up on high heels and heavy purse in my late 30's. No regrets. One can be fashionable without sacrificing one's health and pocketbook.But, one has to be comfortable with oneself with no need to validate their image with extreme fashion demands- like designer everything. A million dollar outfit to enhance image does nothing to one with poor self-image to begin with. Peel all these acroutement and what is left of you??

GGmaSheila D.
Sheila D5 years ago

Whoever brought back those pointy toed shoes from the fifties is a Sadist, loves to watch all the women puting their size 10s into size 9s and totter around looking like peguins. I do remember those shoes and believe me I was so happy for the sixties and seventies with their more foot-friendly shoes. Yes, platforms, which I loved. Stacked heels, which I loved. There were some 3" heels in there, but I only broke down for one pair, which were worn twice, then gave them away for some other poor woman to wreck her feet.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)