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Are re-usable shopping bags bad for you?!

It has been interesting to hear about the experiences of places who have more recently tried to ban or reduce the use of plastic bags in supermarkets.

Having become accustomed to the re-useable bags in SA, it might be a distant memory that many people were very stressed leading up to the change!

I just read an article online called ‘How to avoid injuries from ‘overfilled’ reusable shopping bags’ which quoted several complaints from shoppers who had bad experiences with struggling to lift heavy (overfilled) shopping bags!

Essentially the problem being that we try and cram all of our shopping into less bags now that we pay for them (or we bring too few of our own to the shops).  The point being made was that perhaps this would lead to an epidemic of hand, wrist and shoulder injuries!

Fortunately, a balanced and informed opinion was also offered in the story from Physiotherapist David Hall, who is chair of the Occupational Health Group and a member of the APA, what he recommends. I met David this year in Melbourne when we both worked on an occupational injury forum for the APA. He is a great physio with a wealth of experience in the area of injuries relating to manual handling.

In summary David explained and advised the following:

  • people straining their hands, wrists and shoulders carrying heavy bags was not a new mechanism of injury
  • with old (single-use) shopping bags, people used to carry quite a few at a time and hands are not really designed to hold those loads for long periods
  • the key to minimising injury was not filling bags too much and keeping loads close to the body by opting for backpacks and string shoulder bags rather than “green” carry bags.
  • these better options will engage the body’s larger muscles and core strength, rather than the small ligaments in hands and shoulders
  • d not push shopping too far in the back of the boot (keep them close to the end of the boot)
  • handle bags at bench height rather than bending over and reaching to help avoid low back pain and shoulder injury
  • avoid baskets and opt for a trolley instead
  • be better prepared and leave some backpacks and string bags in the car in case of unexpected trips while on the run

The full article can be read here.

If you are experience any pain or difficulty with carrying and lifting (not just when you’re shopping either), don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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