Today's Fashion Tomorrow's Pain
by Dr. Nicole Murphy
Throughout history, there have been some very poor fashion choices that caused harm and even death to those wearing them, from corsets compressing internal organs to literally poisonous dyes in clothing. But we’ve totally moved past that and no longer put ourselves at risk of injury or discomfort for the sake of fashion…..right?
Um, not so much. There are still modern fashions that can cause problems for us--high heels, heavy bags, wallets, and flip flops to name a few. High heels are are worn by about 40% of the women in the US, and many of those women have low back pain. The problem is the higher the shoe, the more your posture has to change in order to keep you upright. The curve in the low back changes and muscles in the calves shorten, leading to increases in plantar fasciitis. When a heel is over two inches, it also changes how you walk. In a normal gait, the heel would strike first and as you step through, the big toe is the last thing to leave the floor. With a high heel, the toe has to hit first then the heel, which changes the entire biomechanics of walking. Heels also make the weight of gravity move to the front of the foot, causing discomfort and leading to bunions. I do understand the appeal of a high heel, but try to keep wear limited to no more than 20% of your week and if you already have foot, knee, or low back problems stay away from them all together.
Women who regularly wear heels are not the only ones who hurt themselves with fashion. Men who wear their wallets in their back pocket are causing themselves issues. Sitting on a wallet--even a thin one--changes the height of the pelvis on just one side. This is like the foundation of your house shifting on just one side; it creates problems all the way up to the top. A wallet in the back pocket is fine when standing, but take it out before sitting or, better yet, put it in the front pocket so you don’t have to remember to move it each time you sit.
Laptop bags, purses, and backpacks can all cause problems too. We have so many things that we have to truck back and forth from work or school that we end up carrying several bags day-to-day. Bags that are too heavy and are carried on one side of the body cause imbalances. One shoulder rides higher to hold the bag up, and the longer you continue with that posture the more likely it will lead to shoulder pain, upper back pain, and even headaches. So what can you do? Work to reduce the weight of what you are carrying to 10% of your body weight, wear a crossbody style to distribute weight, or even move to backpacks as long as you wear the straps on both shoulders.
Don’t let today’s fashion become tomorrow's pain. I can’t promise I can speak to a particular fashion’s hipness, but if you have questions, I may be able to help you feel better in what you wear! ;)