Handbag Syndrome

KateKylieES1312_468x477A camera, mobile phone, make-up, wallet, laptop, umbrella, water bottle, laptop, a change of clothes, a bottle of wine, books, groceries … we’ve pulled all of these items out of our purse on different occasions. Big handbags are in fashion for a couple of years now, so inevitably the amount of content these bags carry grows That is the rise of heavier handbags and typically such a bag can weigh 3kg or more. And that’s not good, because overstuffed handbags not only lead to broken straps and misshapen purses, but also to back problems for those carrying them.

There is an increase in the cases of heavy handbags induced headaches & neck, shoulder and back pains. Though such syndrome affects mainly women, men do get such pains as there are rising trends of men who carry heavy bags (eg laptop bag).

Worse news! This spinal distress is exacerbated by high heels!

A heavy handbag, shoulder bag, or purse can injure the neck, back and shoulders. The neck has a natural curve that evenly distributes forces on the spine. Hence, when a person carries a heavy bag on one side over a long period of time, this natural curve starts to get distorted which can lead to chronic neck and shoulder pains, back pain, and even headaches. Left untreated, it can lead to more serious injuries such as herniated discs and accelerated degeneration of the cervical spine.

Are you suffering from Heavy Handbag Syndrome?

The reason why heavy purses cause stiffness in neck, back and shoulder is because they induce an uneven distribution of weight.Spine

While carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder the blood flow due to the weight of the purse gets unevenly distributed. The half that carries the purse is under constant duress and the muscles in that area get sensitized and may ultimately start aching. This overload on one half of the back causes strain on the spine and back too and cause pain and extreme discomfort. The pain may be in the form of stiffness, aching, numbness or just tingling sensations.

Another common problem is that one shoulder becomes slightly higher than the other. Some scenarios such as talking on mobile while carrying the heavy handbag, will worsens the problem, because in addition to balancing too much weight on one side, she is lifting the shoulder at the same time, straining the neck and shoulder ligaments and muscles.

Typically, handbag syndrome brings about neck, shoulder muscles and ligaments strain/ injuries, causing poor neck and shoulder postures. Left untreated, these can lead to more serious injuries such as herniated discs, accelerated degeneration of the spine and less commonly, traction injury of the brachial plexus, which symptoms are weakness and sensation changes (i.e. numbness over the shoulder and arm).

What do WE do?

So what are the alternatives to avoid getting caught in a similar situation?

  • Weight of the handbags/ shoulder bags/ laptop bags should not weigh more than 10-15 percent of your body weight.
  • Check by feeling the bag on our shoulder. When you sling the bag on your shoulder, and it feels uncomfortable, especially when the weight pulling shoulder down, it is time to downsize or reduce the contents in your bag.
  •  Lighter bags (contents included) are recommended, not more than 2-3 kg as we tend to carry such bags frequently and over a extended period of time (travelling to work and back home, shopping) which can change the biomechanics of the neck , back and shoulders and lead to pain and dysfunction.
  • Get into the habit of switching sides when we are carrying our bag.

Still have Pain?

3444735038_shoulder_pain_xlargePhysiotherapy can help resolve these pains by:

  1. Analyzing the structure of the your body, such as how does your head sits on your shoulders or how your posture could have brought about the biomechanical changes in your neck and shoulders causing pains.
  2. Apply various strategies in the restoration of spinal and shoulder girdle mobility and stability that results in a reduction in the patient’s pain and spasm. Strategies include manual techniques, such as joint mobilization and manipulation, deep tissue massage, muscle energy technique and neck and shoulder girdle stabilization exercises.

However, treatment is always more effective if the problem is detected and treated early as chronic problems (more than 3 months) have poorer treatment results. Therefore, if the pain does not resolve within 3 days and seems to get worse, it is time to make an appointment with your physiotherapist.

We think our vow to take better care of our back and the return of the chain strap is serendipitous. If you’re guilty of using your handbag as luggage, what items do you think you’ll take out?

Next Week! Visit Us to know more about Ergonomic Handbags!!


Kitchen Ergonomics


This is you, making dinner.

The kitchen is typically the most used room in any house. And an efficient kitchen is typically a key point in having a happy life. If you do not believe me, try living with a poorly laid out kitchen and watch your quality of life plummet.

How to make Your Kitchen Efficient?

Kitchen Work Triangle: The 3 points of the kitchen work triangle are: Refrigerator, Sink & Stove. The sink, is located either adjacent to or across from the cooking surface & refrigerator.

Counter Design & Layout:

  • Make sure that your kitchen includes a working counter near the stove for dishes waiting to be cooked or those fresh out of the oven.
  • Provide for counter space close to the sink.
  • Proper counter height reduces excessive forward bending & shoulder elevation. For most activities, the work surface should be slightly below elbow height. Work requiring force, such as kneading bread, rolling dough, or cutting bones, should be done on a surface that is below elbow height.


  • A cushioned floor surface such as cork or linoleum is best, and it minimizes breakage when things are dropped.
  • If the floor is hard, such as tile, use anti-fatigue mats or cushioned rugs.

Lighting: Every work surface should be well illuminated.

  • Minimize reaching by organizing your kitchen so that most cooking processes can be completed while keeping your elbows close to your body.
  • Place most commonly used tools within easy reach.
  • Assemble all ingredients and utensils needed before cooking near the work center, similar to preparing a lab for an experiment.
  • Hang pots and pans on racks on walls. Use accessories such as corner shelves or racks which can be hung on rods. Another economical way is to use ‘S’ hooks to hang pans & other utensils.
  • Use a step stool to avoid reaching above shoulder height.

  • For floor-level storage space, opt for drawers rather than cupboards. This way, you won’t need to bend over to look for whatever is stuck at the back of a cupboard. Whatever drawer units you select, go for the ones with self-closing glides.
  • Opt for “Flip” Over Cabinets as the door flips up, rather than to the side, avoiding twisting & double maneuvers.
  • Store frequently used accessories in the top drawers just beneath the counter or on the bottom shelf of the cupboards just above the counter. The remaining accessories can then be stored based on how often they’re used, with those used least often on the highest or lowest levels.
  • Make sure the range hood is at least 60 centimetres high so that you won’t bump your head.
Electrical Outlets: You can run a channel of outlets below your upper cabinets. This way anytime you need to plug something in, you just reach up and plug it in, from wherever you are standing — no need to lug appliances around.

Working in your Kitchen:

Consider keeping items at waist level or maximum till shoulder height to avoid excessive bending, stooping or reaching. 
  • It is more comfortable to sit to perform some tasks than to spend hours standing in the kitchen. W have observed that when most people sit on a stool, they sit balanced, & practice better posture.
  • Washing Dishes: There are three things you can do. First, renovate your kitchen and make the sink higher. Two, wash up in a bowl on top of the platform, or three, stand with your feet well apart on a non-slip mat, so you become shorter. 
  • When accessing storage below the platform, bend down using your knees instead of the back.
  • If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair as a step stool.


  • If you’re buying a standard refrigerator, designs with the freezer on the bottom are best, with most commonly used foods on the top shelf for easy access.
  • Think carefully about whether or not to buy a dishwasher. Packing and unpacking them can cause back pain too.

The kitchen is full of potential sources of strains, repetitive motion, force, and awkward posture, especially if you are a “non-standard” sized person or if you have already overworked certain body parts during the day at work. By coupling ergonomically designed appliances and fixtures with careful planning, working in your kitchen can become a pleasure.

If you have any tips which have helped in the kitchen, we would love to hear them!

Towards a Healthy Menopause…

Menopause marks the opening of the new chapter in women’s life. It is the time when women stops having menstruation.
Menopause can be divided into following phases:
Perimenopause: Its the transition years when the hormonal levels start depleting and women experiences changes at the physical and emotional levels.
Premenopause: These are the years leading up to the last menstrual period.
Post menopause: Its the phase when the women hasn’t experienced the menstrual bleeding minimum 12 months
Women experiences a variety of symptoms as a result of hormonal changes associated with transition through menopause. It occurs in age group of 45-55 years.The hormonal levels decline to a level that menstruation is no longer possible with this shift comes several physical and psychological changes. Its important for women to prepare for these changes by taking good care of their bodies.


  • Hot flushes: It is most common symptom. It is the feeling of warmth that spreads over body, lasting around 30 seconds to few minutes. Flushed(reddened) skin and palpitation and sweating.
  • Urinary incontinence, burning on urination, itching and dryness.
  • Vaginal changes as estrogen affects vaginal lining, experimental women may feel pain during intercourse and may note a change in vaginal discharge.
  • Breast changes: shape changes,signs of atrophy can be seen.
  • Bone loss: The bone loss is rapid in perimenopausal phase.Typically women reaches her peak bone mass by 25-30 years, after that there is decrease in bone mass 0.3% per year.This bone mass is 3% per year in perimenopausal phase which may lead to osteoporosis.Other associated symptoms may be back pain,joint pain.
  • Cholesterol levels: The total cholesterol and LDL (Bad) cholesterol levels increase which leads to increased risk of heart problems.
  • Weight gain
  • Emotional symptoms: Menopause doesn’t always create a series of emotional issues. Some women celebrate the menopause as freedom from birth control concerns or menses.However it is also common to feel unsettled about body changes which seems beyond one’s control.The symptoms include, loss of fertility, aging, loss of sexuality, mood swings, fear of cancer.
But, dear ladies remember; the clouds do eventually lift! meanwhile try alleviating your menopausal symptoms with proper diet and exercise.

Even if you’ve never formally exercised, its never too late to start… nor it is too late to reap benefits.The key is to start slowly and do things you enjoy such as:

AEROBIC EXERCISE: Exercises such as walking, cycling, dancing, etc. Aerobics have shown to reduce the stress levels,increase your stamina levels and prevent you from gaining weight.

STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES: Low to moderate intensity strengthening exercise helps to build muscle mass which typically is lost due to ageing. Also the bone density increases thus preventing you from getting injuries or osteoporosis. It helps you to increase metabolism and thus preventing from gaining weight.

FLEXIBILITY: It is very important to maintain flexibility of joints and muscles as it prevents from injuries.

Following exercise program can be implemented :
Warm up: active range of motion and mild stretches to major muscle groups
Exercise period: 30-45 min of aerobic exercise
Cool down: slow down the exercise and do stretches.

Make sure all the stretched are held for 15-20 seconds and repeated twice each side.While doing exercise do monitor your heart rate. Perform all exercise atleast 4-5 days a week and alternate 3 days complement aerobic exercise with strengthening of all major, muscles and small muscles group in form of circuit training.

Start aerobic exercises with 50-60% intensity and strengthening can be done by using weights, 40-50% of the weight they can lift maximally for 1 repetition.

Aerobics do help to reduce stress.
Tai Chi has also shown positive results for reducing the emotional imbalance caused due to changes in hormones. Meditative exercises and relaxation can done.

Rhythmic Breathing: Rhythmic breathing involves a fixed rhythmic pattern where of inhalation,retention, exhalation,retention is of 2:1:2:1. Don’t hold breathing if you are suffering from blood pressure or any heart disease. 
  • Inhalation 1-2-3-4
  • Pause after inhalation 5-6
  • Exhalation 1-2-3-4
  • Pause after exhalation 5-6
When we reach our 40s,it is not always easy upright. This is because after the age of 25, our balance begins to decrease falls in the later years often result to wrist and hip fractures,which can have devastating effects on lifestyle or even threat to life

Exercise A
Stand directly behind a table or chair and place your feet slightly apart. Lift one leg six inches outside.
Hold the position for 10 seconds.Repeat with the opposite leg.

Exercise B
Stand directly behind a table or chair and place your feet slightly apart. Slowly bend towards your chest lifting your foot six inches off the floor.
Hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat with The opposite leg.

Exercise C
Stand directly behind a table or chair and place your feet slightly apart. Lift one leg back keeping your knee straight.
Hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg
The above exercises should be performed 2-3 times a day.

Balance exercise safety guidelines:
Be aware of your posture.Try to maintain your weight over your ankle.
Avoid fast movements including quick turns or changes in position.
Use a chair as a place to not only perform seated exercises but also to hold on to while standing.
always get up slowly when rising from the chair.
Donot close your eyes when exercising or standing from your chair.

T-TAPP exercise
A series of unique movements that are designed to improve spinal alignment, flexibility, strength as well as to build muscle, to improve lymphatic function, raise metabolism and control glucose levels.

It helps to maintain flexibility and promote relaxation.


                       YOGA POSES

  1. Have a regular annual check-up
  2. Breast examination,mammogram
  3. Pap smear
  4. Blood tests
  5. Bone density
  6. Heart risk assessment

Whatever you do,make the commitment now to become more active.Taking control of your health is one way to make menopause a more pleasant experience.

DISCLAIMER :Refer your gynecologist before starting any of the above exercises.

Incontinence in Women

Urinary incontinence is the accidental leakage of urine.

Life’s events can weaken the pelvic muscles. Things such as pregnancy, childbirth, and being overweight can do it. One in three women who have ever had a baby wet themselves.

Pelvic floor muscles are just like other muscles. Exercise can make them stronger. Women with bladder control problems can regain control through pelvic muscle exercises, also called Kegel exercises.
Your hip bones are part of the pelvic area. At the bottom of the pelvis, several layers of muscle stretch between your legs. The muscles attach to the front, back, and sides of the pelvis bone.
Two pelvic muscles do most of the work. The biggest one stretches like a hammock. The other is shaped like a triangle. These muscles prevent the leaking of urine and stool. Bladder control exercises strengthen the muscles that hold the bladder and many other organs in place.
Finding the Right Muscles
This is very important!
For bladder control exercises, you should tighten the two major muscles that stretch across your pelvic floor. They are the “hammock” muscle, and the “triangle” muscle. Here are three methods to check for the correct muscles:
  • Try to stop the flow of urine when you are sitting on the toilet. If you can do it, you are using the right muscles.
  • Imagine that you are trying to stop passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a “pulling” feeling, those are the right muscles for pelvic exercises. 
  • Lie down and put your finger inside your vagina. Squeeze as if you were trying to stop urine from coming out. If you feel tightness on your finger, you are squeezing the right pelvic muscle.

Pelvic Floor Muscle (Kegel) Exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the bladder and close the sphincters. The general approach for practicing incontinence exercises is as follows:
Begin with empty bladder.
Start with gravity assisted positioning-Hips higher than the heart
Supported Bridge
Elbows/knees Position

CONTRACT-RELAX TECHNIQUE: Tighten the pelvic floor muscles as if attempting to stop urine flow or hold back gas. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and relax for same length of time. Repeat 10 times. Breathe normally.
QUICK CONTRACTIONS:Repeat contractions of pelvic floor muscles while maintaining a normal breathing rate and keeping accessory muscles relaxed. Try 15 to 20 repetitions per set with coughing and sneezing.
ELEVATOR EXERCISES: Imagine riding in an elevator. As the elevator goes up from one floor to next,contracts the pelvic floor muscles a little more. As strength and awareness improves, add more floors to the sequence of the contraction. Relax the muscles as if descending one floor at a time.

  • Performing Kegels with a full bladder can cause urinary tract infections & can further weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Don’t squeeze other muscles at the same time. Be careful not to tighten your stomach, legs, or other muscles. Squeezing the wrong muscles can put more pressure on your bladder control muscles. Just squeeze the pelvic muscle.
  • Breathe normally.

You can exercise while lying on the floor, sitting at a desk, or standing in the kitchen. Using all three positions makes the muscles strongest. As working against gravity is like adding more weight.

How to Protect the Pelvic Muscles
You can protect your pelvic muscles from more damage by bracing yourself.
Think ahead, just before sneezing, lifting, or jumping. Sudden pressure from such actions can hurt those pelvic muscles. Squeeze your pelvic muscles tightly and hold on until after you sneeze, lift, or jump.
After you train yourself to tighten the pelvic muscles for these moments, you will most likely have fewer accidents.
Be patient. Don’t give up. It’s just 5 minutes, three times a day. You may not feel your bladder control improve until after 3 to 6 weeks. Still, most women who do bladder control exercises notice an improvement after a few weeks.

Urinary Incontinence should not cause embarrassment. It is a medical problem, like arthritis and diabetes. There is a solution!

Looking for an Evidence? Here it is:

Women and Weight Training

Being a fitness expert in a women’s only gym, I came across so many women for whom working out with help of free weights or Machines is a strict No-No. There are so many myths in mind of women who decide to workout in a gym. Most of them feel that weight training is only for men who aim to have a 20 inch biceps or a 6 -pack abs.

If you want to get stronger, leaner and healthy you have to supplement your aerobic workout with the key component of fitness and thats “Weight training”.

As we age our muscle mass gradually decreases and hence our metabolism (i.e the energy our body spents in normal functioning of our important physiological systems). So when all these depletes your fat percentage increases.

Lets look into some Myths related to weight training :
Myth I : Weight training will make you bulky or masculine
My dear ladies the hormone to be blamed for it is testesterone which is in abundance in males but is in very minimal quantity in females. Our oestrogen abundance prevents us to have a masculine body ,unless you take steroids externally.
Myth II : Weight training will Increase chest size
Breast size can never be increased or decreased. But yes it will surely make your chest look firm.
Myth III : Weight training will make your body stiff
There are many exercises such as dead lifts, chin ups, etc which will make you use your complete muscle length and hence maintain flexibility.
Myth IV : If you stop exercising your muscles will turn to fat
This myth is just like someone saying you can turn gold into brass!! Remember, both are different types of tissues so it cannot interchange.
Myth V : Women only should do cardio workout and if they want to do weight training they should only do with lighter weights.
I agree, cardio workout is very important component but if you are doing long hours of only cardio workout it will not only burn you fat but also your muscles. Also If you are weight training with light weights then its not of much use as there wont be any muscle breakdown. You need to overload your muscle to get the desired result of toning up.

So now as most of the myths are busted, lets quickly see the Effect of Weight Training :

1) Helps you to have stronger bone by increasing bone density thus preventing osteoporosis.
2) Increases your resting metabolism and thus you will burn the more calories even when you are at rest (as your Basal Metabolic Rate will increase).
3) Decreases the risk of injuries by making your bone,muscles and ligaments stronger.
4) Helps to improve balance and coordination.
5) Improves your stamina.
6) And above all for most of the women it gives you a fabulous toned body .
Now the question comes –
“How often ,how much and how we should proceed with this weight training program?”
According to American College of Sports Medicine :
Weight training should be done 2- 3 days per week and to get the best result supplement the weight training with aerobic workout in form of circuit training.
How much weight you should take will depend on your muscles ability to lift maximum weight in one go. Usually to start with 50-60% of this maximum weight can be used.

Also to start with 2 sets of 15-20 repetitions is sufficient to get desired results.
You can use a variety of options for weight training such as machines, your own body weight, dumbbells, tubes and the latest one the Kettlebells.

Just make sure you adopt the right posture, correct breathing (Exale when you exert) and right amount of weight. Consult your fitness trainer for the same.

So dear ladies, Pick up the dumbells and lets hit the gym with right kind of workout, food and rest.
COMING SOON : Some ‘MUST DO’ exercises for women who find no time to visit gyms!!