What a person wears can affect their posture: certain clothing and accessories may contribute to or worsen preexisting back, neck, hip, and foot pain. Chiropractic care could provide solutions to the problems caused by these unfortunate clothing choices. However, it is still up to the patient to change some of their fashion decisions for their own health. The most obvious article of clothing that comes to mind when thinking of painful and potentially dangerous fashion may very well be the high-heeled shoe. Foot pain and back problems very often come from this footwear. Corns, bunions, calluses, hammertoes, and pain can arise from high heels. The symptoms and long-term effects worsen the longer and more often the patient wears the injurious shoes.1 This is especially problematic when the high-heeled shoes “lack support and sound structure”. High heels lead to smaller calf muscles and could cause the foot to turn inward. Some people are even getting surgery to shave down toe bones and Botox injections to “loosen the muscles pulling on the toe”. Patients should not have to take invasive measures just to wear a pair of shoes. Surgery should never be an option when one is trying to wear some fashionable clothing. It is not just high heels: flip-flop sandals also alter walking patterns, causing sole, heel, and ankle problems.2 When walking patterns change, there can be knee damage as well as the potential for osteoarthritis from “bone-on-bone forces in the knee” The change in walking patterns is not always necessarily initially linked to the clothing that the patient is wearing, but their fashion choices might worsen a preexisting condition. Even seemingly minor or temporary changes can lead to back problems, poor posture, and muscle fatigue.3 Patients who wear their wallets in their back pockets are not only risking a fashion faux pas and making themselves an easy target for pickpocketing and theft: they risk developing sciatica. When an object presses on the buttocks, specifically on the piriformis muscle, the sciatic nerve may cause “radiating pain in the back and hip area”.4 Even children are at risk for developing physical problems from backpacks that are too heavy or carried only on one side. The natural curves in the middle and lower back can be distorted and put strain on the spine and ribs. The shoulders could round, and balance is reduced when the person is leaning forward from the weight of the heavy backpack. When backpacks are carried on one shoulder, muscles will be forced to strain from overcompensation. Heavy backpacks can lead to neck, arm, shoulder, and lower back pains, as well as headaches. Anybody might be at risk for clothing and accessory-related injuries without ever knowing about the potential danger of some simple, daily fashion choices.5
Chiropractors and other doctors may recommend shoe inserts, orthotics, or at the very least: “flat, flexible shoes with good arch support”. Some damage will need to receive treatment from a chiropractor before the feet and other affected areas begin to feel better. Even during recovery, it is important that patients follow their suggested clothing style changes. The chiropractor also might recommend exercises and stretches for at-home treatment and maintenance. The patient has a hand in their own recovery and should remember that they are still able to help themselves.6 Some professionals suggest that backpacks should not exceed 10-15% of a child’s weight. Backpack carrying should be done in shorter durations, with breaks in between. This can be difficult due to how many school books children have to carry, but they should at least try their best to put unnecessary books into their lockers in between classes when possible. Again, a backpack should never be worn over only one shoulder. It does not make a difference whether only one or both straps are supporting the weight of the backpack on the single shoulder. Complications due to the weight of the backpack are somewhat reduced by wearing the straps properly, on both shoulders, though this does not totally remove the other negative factor of weight.7 The American Chiropractic Association actually recommends that a backpack not weigh more than 5-10% of the body weight, advocating that the weight limit be less than what some professionals advise. The backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. Bulky and sharp objects should be packed in such a way that they do not dig into the back. Backpacks should be smaller, and both straps should be used; the straps should be padded, wide, and adjustable. Using the right backpack is just one small difference that the patient can make to help reduce their own chance of injury. Preventative measures are best, though a chiropractor can help as well in cases where injury has already occurred.8 Regular chiropractic adjustments will help alleviate and treat the repetitive pain and injury caused by poor or uneducated fashion and accessory choices.
Check out more information about chiropractic and ergonomics.