From handbags, to skinny jeans, to shapewear, to cell phones – there are a TON of ways to be kinder to your body when it comes to your attire. We’re not saying swear off any of these items, but your body will thank you for using them in moderation!
Is your heavy load balanced?
Briefcases, tote bags, oversized handbags…basically anything weighted that you carry on one side puts strain on your spine. Even a small clutch that is tucked under your arm tends to pull one shoulder lower than the other and twist your neck and spine. Be mindful of distributing weight evenly across your shoulders or reducing the weight in your handbag or briefcase. If your bag only has one strap, try to alternate the side you carry it on. It also helps to keep doubles of everyday items so you’re not carrying them back and forth. Have an extra water bottle, deodorant, makeup set, snack etc at the office or in the car to reduce the weight of your everyday bag.
Is your back pocket tilting your pelvis?
We all love the convenience of a back pocket. But have you thought about how your pelvis shifts when you’ve tucked your wallet or phone away? Carrying your wallet in your back pocket distorts your posture and puts pressure on your piriformis muscle (a small muscle located deep in the buttock) which can aggravate the sciatic nerve. Try using your jacket pocket instead or empty your pockets before sitting down.
Is your body being restricted?
I know I’d be foolish to suggest everyone gives up restrictive shapewear. But imagine how much stress your systems are under when they’re squashed so tightly! Your circulation, nervous system, digestion and general functioning are all put under stress when your body is bound so tightly. A good rule of thumb is if you need to take off your shapewear after you’ve eaten, it’s worth going up a size.
This also applies to tighter outerwear items like skinny jeans or high-waisted items. Restricting your body’s room to circulate means it has to work harder to maintain or even reduce certain functions. Opt for looser clothing pieces regularly and your body will thank you for it!
Are your supportive garments helping or harming?
Ladies – a sneaky contributor to neck and back pain is often your sports bra! Options with thin or halter straps don’t distribute weight evenly across your shoulders, but instead concentrate pressure into one spot which causes you to slump. This is an issue regardless of your cup size. Look for bras with thicker straps that sit over each shoulder evenly. It’s worth getting a professional bra fitting every 3-4 years to ensure you’re wearing one that doesn’t force your shoulders to absorb all the strain.
Is your footwear causing a domino effect?
Your choice of footwear is SO influential on the position of your spine! Again, swearing off high heels may be unrealistic but there are so many flat options that are kinder to your body. Wearing heels forces your body into a posture that increases tension in the spine. If heels are a must, try chunkier/thicker heels or wedges over a stiletto. Look for a lower height (below 4cm is preferable) and swap out your heels for flat shoes as much as you can.
Backless shoes (e.g. mules) are also best avoided or worn in moderation. They don’t support a balanced position for your foot, and this strain forces your spine and the rest of your frame to work harder.
Guys – your footwear matters too! Invest in well-fitting, supportive shoes for both the office and casual activities. Look at the wear and tear on the heel of your shoe and if one side of the shoe is worn down more than the other your foot might be imbalanced – making your body work harder to keep everything else aligned. Chiropractic care and a good podiatrist can help you with this.
Is your technology keeping you balanced?
The ‘iHunch’ is a real thing! We genuinely know how difficult it is to hold your phone at eye level or sit up straight at your computer. But your body NEEDS you to adopt a healthy posture when using devices. An adult head weighs around 4-5kgs. That’s a bowling ball! Imagine holding a bowling ball close to your chest, then away from you with outstretched arms. Which way takes more effort? That difference in strain is similar to what your neck experiences when your head is held forward instead of stacked nicely on top of your spine.
Your body is connected. If one area is under strain then other areas can feel the consequences. It’s so important to be mindful of putting your frame or your nervous system under unnecessary strain and explore ways to reduce that load. We have tons of other ideas so come have a chat with us and learn some more!
Ed has been practicing in Tauranga since 2009, and established Precision Chiropractic in 2012. Prior to this, Ed spent several years in a chiropractic practice in Albany, Auckland.