The women in my village walk back from the station with a shopping bag in each hand and one on their head. And they carry sacks of olives on their head to the press. And baskets of washing to and from the font. And logs (big ones - I have no idea how they get them up there!!) that they liberate from the forest and collect all over summer, then get us to saw up for them as winter sets in.
I discovered that part of the secret is that they all have doughnut shaped padded rings that they keep hanging near the door. These help spread the weight and make it easier to keep stuff balanced. If they get caught out, they will remove their head scarves and twist them up into a rope then make a loop the right size and wrap the ends round and round to make an improvised padded ring. They seem to be a bit of a minor art form - some of the old ladies have collections of them hanging up, with multicoloured crochet covers and decorated with ribbons.