While you are carrying anything, in any position, stand up straight as if you are carrying nothing. While walking in the city, you can look at yourself in store windows to be sure your posture is 100% upright.
When you are carrying a bag on one side, by standing up straight, you are using the muscles that form your waist line and support breathing muscles. If you are carrying a bag on one side, switch sides regularly, every 5-10 blocks.
When you are wearing a backpack, by standing up straight rather than leaning forward, you use more muscles in front, including your “six pack.”
When you are carrying a bag in front of you, like groceries, by standing up straight rather than leaning back to balance the weight of the groceries, you emphasize a group of muscles that holds your spine erect.
Strong side, abdominal, and back muscles slim the waistline and can prevent back pain. While carrying a heavy bag incorrectly can be implicated for pain, carrying it correctly is an exercise for your benefit instead. The difference is the energy you use to support the weight.
By nature, you seek to balance your center of gravity over your base of support. If you carry ten pounds on the left side, you lean ten pounds of body weight to the right so that the total weight is centered over your feet. When you lean like this, your non-metabolic, non-energy-using ligaments are doing the work. To maintain an upright posture, without leaning, you are using muscles to support the ten pounds on the left. Using ligaments can lead to joint pain and possibly damage. Using these muscles leads to a stronger (and slimmer) trunk.
- Start with a light bag.
- A bag with a non-slip shoulder strap will allow you to maintain good posture without strange twists just to keep it on your shoulder(s).
Laura Schultz, M.P.T., C.E.E.S.