How to Carry a Handbag Properly

Many women complain about pain in their back, neck, and shoulders, but they don’t know what exactly is causing it. They shrug it off, thinking that they probably slept the wrong side or sat in the wrong way or sat hunched over at their laptops for too long. Little do they realize that the pain could be a consequence of carrying their handbags improperly.

A woman carrying a black handbag

Women who realize that their handbags are causing their pain tend to blame the size and the weight of their bags. They do this without thinking that it could be the way they’re carrying their handbag that is causing them so much trouble.

You read that right. The way you carry your handbag affects your body. Carrying a handbag improperly can result in pain in your shoulders, back, and neck, much like the backache kids get if their schoolbags are too heavy.

There are ways to carry a handbag properly. Depending upon the type of handbag you’re using, the right way to carry it varies. The right way to carry a shoulder bag will be different than the right way to carry a tote bag. We have prepared a guide that will help teach you the correct way to carry a handbag.

The Incorrect Ways of Carrying a Handbag

Before we can move on to helping you learn to carry a handbag properly, let’s first have a look at the common ways women carry their handbags that are NOT right.

1. Heavy Bag on One Side

Ideally, the weight of your bag should not be more than 10% of your total body weight. If you carry a bag that is heavier than that on one shoulder, it can result in shoulder and back pain. Moreover, if a bag is too heavy, it puts excessive pressure on the trapezius muscle present in the shoulder. This muscle goes all the way to the back of the neck and then to the skull. The severe tension in this muscle results in headaches that most women mistake for migraines.

2. A Bag with Thin Straps

Carrying a bag whose straps are too thin can also cause shoulder pain because the thin straps can cut into your shoulder muscles.

3. Wearing Your Backpack Too Low

Carrying a backpack on a single shoulder or letting it hang too low can also cause severe back pain because it puts pressure on your shoulder and back muscles.

Carrying a Handbag Properly

Now that you know the common mistakes that you have been making all your life, we will now enlighten you on how to carry a handbag properly.

1. Top-Handles Handbags

Women carry top-handle handbags by either holding them in their hands or nestling them in the crook of their elbow. They also drape their bags over their forearms.

As long as your bag is not too heavy and you’re alternating the handbag between your right and left hands, there is nothing wrong with any of the techniques that we mentioned above.

However, draping a top handle bag on your forearm or placing it on your elbow crook is not the best way to carry a top handle handbag. Carrying your handbag this way for too long can result in physical nerve impingement. The muscles in this region of your arm are small and are not made to lift heavy weight for a very long duration. Overuse of these muscles can result in fatigue of the biceps and forearms.

If you’re carrying a top handle handbag, make sure to carry it the right way. Keep the weight of the bag light and alternate the hands you’re using to hold the bag if you are standing with the bag in your hands for too long.

2. Tote Bag

Tote bags are the most common types of handbags that women use these days, primarily because of their capacity. They load their tote bags up, sling it over their shoulders, and off they go. However, if you think about how much weight you’re carrying on your shoulder, you will instantly realize the disservice you’re doing to yourself.

If you’re really fond of tote bags, we advise you to opt for smaller ones because the smaller it is, the less you will load it up. Also, check the width of the straps before you make a purchase. Wider straps disperse the weight better, making carrying the handbag a lot more comfortable.

You should also ensure that the tote bag fits your body comfortably. It should be of a length that you can easily tuck away. However, the most appropriate way of carrying a tote bag is alternating it between your shoulders every 10 to 15 minutes. This will ensure that no one side of your body stays under pressure or tension for too long. By doing so, you are constantly changing which side of your body is under stress, which will enable your body to adapt better.

3. Cross-Body Bags

Cross-body bags not only look chic but are on the right track ergonomically. With cross-body bags, you’re distributing the weight diagonally across your body and are not putting excessive stress on any one side.

However, while you are carrying a cross-body bag, or, as a matter of fact, any handbag, you’re keeping your body in a posture that you don’t usually stay in for too long. This is where the problem lies. Cross-body bags do not usually cause body pain, but if they’re not adjusted every now and then, you’re going to suffer from stiff shoulders. Carrying cross-body bag calls for adjusting it around your body frequently so that your body does not remain in the same posture for extended periods of time.

4. Backpacks

Ideally, backpacks are the best bags to carry because they are ergonomically perfect for your body. However, there are many individuals who complain about constant body pain, particularly in the shoulders and the back when they carry a backpack.


Carrying a backpack on one shoulder looks cool and trendy, but let us tell you that it is what’s causing the back pain. Also, girls like to carry a backpack in a way that hangs too low on their backs, which is, again, not the right way to go about it.

The best way to carry a backpack is by wearing it on both shoulders so that the weight is distributed across your torso equally. Not only is the weight distributed well, but it also significantly reduces the stress on the shoulders, back, and neck.

Make sure that you purchase a backpack that has wide and padded straps because such straps offer maximum comfort. Also, you should adjust the height such that the backpack is not hanging too low or too high. In case your backpack is too heavy, place the bag such that the weight is closest to your center of gravity.

Our Final Thoughts

Handbags are an essential part of a woman’s attire, as women change the type of bag they carry with their outfits. Handbags surely give a finishing touch to the overall outlook. However, carrying the right bag the wrong way can create serious problems for you. It is very important that you carry a handbag properly to avoid suffering from pain in your back, neck, and shoulders.

We really hope that this guide on how to carry a handbag properly helps you a great deal. If you follow the instructions mentioned above, you’ll rid yourself of the pain that you’re feeling as a result of your handbag.

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