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Will You Be a Fashion-ista or a Fascia-nista? Heavy Handbag Edition

in YogaDork Ed


By Dinneen Viggiano

Fashion-ista or Fascia-nista: that is the question. One honors fashion, often at the expense of structural integrity, the other honors FASCIA (the soft fibrous connective tissue that is the aqueous scaffolding of our structure) at the expense of fashion.

Did you know that in 2007, The American Chiropractic Association reported that purse-related injuries surged 30%? The average woman’s handbag weighs 5.2 pounds these days and the UK’s Daily Mail reports that the average “Man Bag” weighs almost 13 pounds! That’s like hauling around 5 to 12 bags of sugar except the results are not so sweet.

Just this morning, I observed a Fashion-savvy woman furiously text messaging on the subway. From her texting arm hung a 10-12 pound bag and from the opposite shoulder hung another bag twice as heavy. Her head hung forward about 6 inches, her neck in wickedly deep flexion while her fingers ravenously danced over her Blackberry keyboard.

It’s hard to say which is worse, carrying a huge bag on the elbow joint or carrying on the shoulder since both purse-carries have detrimental effects:

The Arm Bag Carry

The Huge Handbag that hangs off the elbow joint can damage the superficial radial nerves that stretch from the elbow to the hand on the anterior side of the forearm. As we daintily bear the weight on our forearm, our digital flexors and pronator teres become tenderized. Alas, it’s not uncommon for those who’ve never played tennis to suddenly acquire a Tennis Elbow diagnosis as the olecranon bursa and/or the tendon attachments become inflamed.

The Shoulder Bag Carry

The Shoulder Bag Carry is not much improvement. Strapping a giant bag on one shoulder can aggravate tender rotator cuff muscles and degrade the highly susceptible shoulder joint capsule, resulting in pain. Furthermore, this big bag hanging off one side of your body may result in acquired functional spinal curvature as your muscles and spine are forced to counterbalance the weight, creating repetitive stress on the axial skeleton. Again, the result is pain, usually in the back.

So, what’s the fix?

  • Switch bags often. This way your body isn’t maintaining a bad structural habit day after day.
  • Stabilize your core and bend your knees when lifting anything, even your bag.
  • Carry two smaller bags instead of one large one.
  • Practice joint mobilization and stabilization exercises regularly such as the Shoulder Flossing video below.
  • Use Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls (or other massage tools) to soothe and restore slide and glide to aching muscles.

So, what will it be? Will you choose Fashion-ista or Fascia-nista?


Dinneen Viggiano, E-RYT 500, P-RYT, NC, CHHC is an Integrated Certified Yoga Tune Up Teacher and has been teaching yoga in New York City for 13 years, empowering her students to improve their movement and lifestyle patterns in a way that is structurally appropriate for their yoga practice and their daily life. She is also a Certified Nutrition Consultant, a Certified Holistic Health Coach and a CranioSacral Therapist. read more about Dinneen here.

image via NY Daily News



4 comments… add one
  • Not much to say about fashion or style but the good old, traditional backpack serves me just fine with nothing to worry about like shoulder or joint pains. Of course, that sort of confines my dressing to casual

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