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Fashion and Back pain…

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Beauty is pain, right? Most women experience back and neck pain on occasion. A new report from the British Chiropractic Association suggests certain fashion trends like oversized handbags, skinny jeans and backless shoes could be to blame.

Dr. Karen Erickson, a New York City Chiropractor, says it is true; many of her clients attribute their poor posture and back pain in part to their choice of style.

Heavy handbags are the biggest culprit!

"It's really common that I'll examine a woman and find that on one side, her trapezius, the muscle on top of the shoulder, it's like iron," said Erickson, a member of the American Chiropractic Association. "And I'll say, 'This is the side you carry your bag on, isn't it?' And it is."

In some cases, she continued "the shoulder is actually hiked up higher toward the ear, because a lot of women unconsciously raise their shoulder when holding the bag, trying to prevent it from slipping off the shoulder."

To avoid potential issues, try to lighten up your bag. Keep extra clothes and makeup somewhere else so you aren’t carrying everything around. For shoulder bags, look for a bag with a thick strap to better distribute the weight and occasionally switch arms. Look at the bag height when you walk. Make sure it doesn’t hit your legs or come up so high that you can’t swing your arms.

Some love them, some hate them, but all agree high heels can be painful!

When your toes are facing down you put more pressure on the ball of the foot causing pain which can lead to bunions. This also causes shortening of the calf muscle which alters your gait putting stress on your low back.

Erickson said "It overarches the back, and kind of propels you forward." She added "You have to use your back muscles to pull you upright, so it not only affects your low back, but your neck and shoulders as well."

Erickson recommends wearing heels with platforms so the height of the heel doesn’t exceed 2 inches.

Another shoe trend causing issue are backless shoes.

"I like the idea of them — they certainly are a good alternative to heels," Erickson said. "The problem is that if you have to do a bit of walking, there's not good arch support. They also don't stay on your feet."

Make sure your shoes pass the shake test. If you shake your foot and your shoe doesn’t fall off, you’re good. If your shoe does fall that likely means you are scrunching your toes while walking to keep your shoes secure.

"That causes a lot of tightness in the arch of the foot and it doesn't let you have a long, lengthy gait," Erickson said.

Holing this unnatural position puts stress on the spine so Erickson recommends wear backless shoes only on occasion and never for a long walk.

Skinny Jeans
Really tight jeans can be a potential danger to you.

"I actually see more issues with Spanx, or people who wear skinny jeans with Spanx," Erickson said.

Clothing that is too tight can compress the nerve in the upper thigh causing numbness and a condition called  meralgia paraesthetica.

"It's not directly related to the spine, but it's something that chiropractors see a lot and we treat, because people think it comes from the spine, like sciatica," Erickson said.

Meralgia paraesthetica is easily treated and not usually dangerous.

The one accessory you probably don’t leave home without, your smartphone can cause you pain.

"It's an accessory that we don't think of as an accessory — we think of sunglasses as an accessory," Erickson said. "But looking down at our phone for hours and hours, it's a really big issue."

This prolonged position puts a lot of stress on your cervical spine which causes neck pain, aka text neck.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution: "I recommend women rest their elbow on their abdomen and hold the phone straight out in front of their eyes," she said. "It makes such a difference."