Baby, you’ve got a back!   If you have ever seriously strained or hurt your back, you know it’s a pain like no other. The back is half of the body, so when it’s hurt, that’s substantial.  Even when we hurt our back in just one area, like a shoulder blade, or the lower back, it can be exceedingly distressing.

The other day I had an “Aha moment” concerning the health of my own back. I was standing outside at the New York Marathon awaiting the arrival of my friend in the race for over an hour. I began experiencing a sense of tiredness that was a mystery to me since it was still very early in the day. It felt like a kind of creeping exhaustion. I decided to do a mental body scan in an attempt to assess what could be causing this feeling.

I realized that my textured, swing coat was becoming increasingly heavy due to absorbing water from the constant drizzle of rain, but also the handbag hanging on my shoulder felt like it was literally pulling and energetically weighing me down.

Many New Yorkers don’t drive (and even those of us who do drive) have a tendency to use our bodies like the trunk of a car, carrying more ‘stuff’ than most; New Yorkers, especially women, can be seen on any given day with multiple bags. Some carry multiple bags on a daily basis. Those heavy bags hanging on our shoulders and in our hands can not only cause exhaustion but also can have a negative impact on our bodies. They can cause rounding of the shoulders, curvature of the spine and askew our alignment. And they can also strain our backs in addition to depleting our energy.

 

Sometimes I see young women in the street with cute little handbags and I wonder how they do it. I can assure you, not even half of what I had with me was used.  A few of the weighty items included a Kindle, a cosmetic bag, sunglasses, and the sunglass case (on a rainy day).  Not to mention, due to its size, that particular bag is weighty even when it’s empty.

Going forward I’ve decided to scale down big time what I’m carrying in my handbags and therefore on my body. After all these years I’m beginning to realize it’s really not necessary to schlep around half of what I’m carrying.

That day I couldn’t help but imagine what it would have felt like to have been carrying no bag, or a light, stylish backpack (hands-free) and to have been wearing a lightweight jacket. After all, it was 72 degrees that day, despite the fact that it was November.  I’m certain I would have felt much better, lightweight, more energetic, and carefree.   As it was, I couldn’t wait to get home and take off that damp jacket and put down that heavy satchel.

As Erykah Badu so amply put it:

Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold onto, is you, is you, is you…

Now we all know she was referring to other baggage as well.  Be it physical to metaphysical, we need to put down some of this baggage once and for all.

 

For the sake of our health, I’m recommending we take stock of what we’re carrying in our bags and even the weight of the bag itself.  In addition, for optimum health, it is important that we do all that we can to make certain our backs remain limber, strong and flexible.  On a regular basis it is important to stretch, practice yoga, dance, exercise and have regular massage therapy.  And let’s make different choices when it comes to our back.  Be free to be!  And Baby, protect your back!