By wearing ill-fitting bras or sky-high shoes, we could be setting ourselves up for future pain…
We all love to look our best and keep up with the latest trends, but what if your fashion choices are having a serious impact on your health?
A recent study by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) found that 73 per cent of the 1062 people surveyed had suffered back pain and associated problems caused by the clothes and accessories they wore.
So what are the main fashion culprits and how can we make better choices?
Bras that don’t fit well can put strain on your shoulders and may lead to back pain in the long run.
Rishi Loatey, BCA spokesperson and chiropractor, explains: ‘A well-fitting bra will distribute the weight across your shoulders and chest, ensuring that the load isn’t concentrated on your shoulders, and providing the correct support.
‘Bearing too much weight on your shoulders could lead to back or neck pain, as the weight pulls your shoulders downwards.’
Many of us don’t realise that the under band provides the majority of support for the breasts, rather than the straps.
Rishi says: ‘When choosing a bra, you should ensure the under band sits tight against the body, even when you’re moving around.’
If the straps pull the bra up at the back, this is a sign that the band is too loose.
Any clothes that restrict your movement can affect your posture, and eventually cause problems in your neck or back.
Skinny jeans, for example, can prevent your hips or knees from moving freely, leading you to stand or walk unnaturally.
Make sure your clothes aren’t overly tight so that you can move around comfortably.
Most of us are guilty of chucking everything but the kitchen sink into our bag and forgetting to empty it out at the end of the day.
However, hauling a heavy bag over one shoulder or in the crook of your elbow can bring months of discomfort in the future.
‘Back, neck and shoulder pain from carrying bags tends to be cumulative rather than an immediate problem,’ Rishi says.
‘If you think your bag might be causing you back or neck pain, don’t overfill it and regularly switch it between hands or shoulders to balance the load.’
Heavy school bags
According to BCA research, a third of parents say that their child has suffered from back or neck pain in the past.
We know that backpacks are a great way for schoolchildren to carry their books and stationery, but the design of the bag and, crucially, how your child carries a bag can make a big difference in preventing back pain.
Rishi says: ‘I regularly see school children complaining of back or neck pain. Young people today can easily overfill their bags with things like mobile phones and tablets — and slinging that over one shoulder while slouching can spell trouble for backs.
‘A quick check of their bags and posture can help children avoid painful back problems in the future.’
Rishi adds: ‘Look out for bags which can be carried on both shoulders, with adjustable straps which will hold the contents close to their back and distribute weight evenly.
‘Additionally, when packing their bags, try to place heavier items on the side closest to your body, and if possible position them at the top of the bag rather than the bottom.’
Body-shaping undies are great at flattening our tummies and smoothing out our lumps and bumps, but they can cause health problems too.
Prolonged use puts pressure on the stomach, resulting in acid reflux and heartburn.
Your feet should not be a fashion zone, according to consultant podiatrist Emma Supple.
‘Be kind to your feet — you only get one pair,’ she says. ‘Wearing sky-high shoes now and then is fine, but be mindful of the damage you can do to your feet if you wear them
‘If your feet are wide then wearing narrow shoes with pointy toes could cause trapped nerves and bunions. Tight-fitting shoes also cause corns and calluses.
‘However if you have fallen arches (flat feet) you’re better off wearing shoes with a small heel rather than flats,’ she adds.
Shoes that lack support can affect your back too, according to Rishi Loatey.
He says: ‘Sliders and flip-flops don’t have any support at the back of the shoe, and without grip at the back, your foot can move around more.
‘This can lead to you over- compensating by gripping the shoe as you walk, which can affect your gait and build up tension in your legs and lower back.
‘Wearing shoes like this once in a while won’t cause significant injury, but if you’re wearing them regularly, the change to your posture could have long-term effects on your back health. Ideally, you should wear soft-soled lace-up shoes when you can.’
Edited by Donna Smiley