20 Mar Are you fashionably sensible?
H E A L T H
by Erik R. Schmidt, DC
Are you fashionably sensible?
Your flair for fashion may make you look marvelous – but at what sacrifice. With fall fast approaching, the style conscious will rush to buy the season’s en vogue accessories. Unfortunately, looking your best may not be the best thing for you. Be assured that today’s designers endeavor to create unique looks often without thought toward practicality or comfort.
We will see tighter skirts and pants, high platform heels, and huge two-ton hand bags. A person in my profession can’t help but feel urged to inform the wearer of the probable back, neck, or leg problems in the making.
High heels are worn for a couple of reasons. They are used to complement an outfit or to give an allusion of a lengthier leg. High heels are a major cause of foot discomfort and low back pain. The balanced position of a person’s body is thrown off significantly. One’s weight is shifted toward the toes, establishing a new dynamic equilibrium. The rest of our body is forced to compensate in order to re-establish balance – but there are sacrifices. The lumbar spine must take on a deeper forward curvature and the pelvis becomes tipped forward. The body’s center of gravity is altered and one is no longer sure-footed, making an ankle injury or fall more probable.
Women, more than men, tend to fall into the pitfalls of fashion. Tight clothing like tube skirts and painted-on pants can be too restrictive. Even the simplest tasks such as sitting, bending, and walking are made difficult. One is forced to adapt their normal way of performing such tasks. New ways of twisting or contorting one’s self to avoid tearing or overstretching clothing may result in a tearing or overstretching a muscle or ligament. This type clothing also may result in poor posture and misalignment of the spine because it impedes comfortable movement.
Backpacks, handbags, and purses can also be an unhealthy fashion statement. Both men and women tend to stuff too many items into a bag. Whether it be books for school, files for work, or 3 pounds of loose change, it’s probably too much to carry on one arm. Carrying more than 10% of one’s body weight (detectable weight) wrongly, will cause improper balance and potential health risk. The shoulder is hiked while the other is held immobile. A prolonged one-sided muscle contraction will result in a constant ache in that same shoulder, that often climbs into the neck and head if left untreated. If this activity is ongoing, a near permanent deviation of the spine to that side may occur, which sets one up for much more severe long-term complications.
Women may make up the majority of perpetrators when it comes to handbags, but men even the score with their use of wallets. Most of us have credit, identification, and bank cards which total in the multiple tens. For convenience, most of the guys put them all in one place…a 3.5 inch thick wallet. This is all fine and dandy until we place that wallet in our back pocket. Sitting for long periods with the wallet placed in this position will create pressure on the underlying muscle and nerve. Unnecessary pelvic joint misalignment and possible sciatic nerve irritation will ultimately result in a completely avoidable pain syndrome.
Follow these simple recommendations to avoid what I consider to be the true fashion faux pas:
Wear comfortable shoes with a minimal heel height. Wear high heels for special occasions, and for only short periods of time.
If a shoe is slightly uncomfortable when you try it on, don’t buy it. Slightly uncomfortable will become extremely uncomfortable in an hour or so.
Avoiding high heels isn’t enough. Make sure those flats have arch support for the contours of your foot if they will be used for more than an hour or two of wear. Custom orthotics are an extremely smart investment.
When sitting, take frequent breaks to encourage circulation and avoid leg muscle atrophy. Watch the way you sit, crossing the legs is another chiropractic fashion faux pas that results in pelvic misalignment..
Make sure your briefcase or purse has a wide, adjustable strap. It should be long enough to place over your head to rest on your opposite shoulder to more evenly distribute weight.
Take time to remove unnecessary items from your bag.
Switch shoulders often when carrying a bag.
Carry your wallet in a front pocket. You won’t have to remember to move it when you sit and it is a whole lot harder for a shady character to pick in a public place.
Consider outfits that fit your lifestyle. The most important aspect of style should be looking your best while maintaining healthy judgment.
Being fashionable can also be comfortable.
Dr. Erik R. Schmidt, Director of Clinics
Vital Link Chiropractic, PC