Got back or neck pain? It might be your clothes doing the damage

The clothes you wear every day could be impacting your health, chiropractors have said.

The clothes you wear every day could be impacting your health, chiropractors have said. Photo: Getty

Wearing skinny jeans, hoodies and heavy statement jewellery could be taking their toll on your spine, chiropractors have warned.

Research conducted by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) found nearly three-quarters of women who suffer from back pain blame fashionable clothing including high heels and oversized bags as the cause of their discomfort.

“Some of the most popular items of clothing can have a hidden health impact,” BCA chiropractor Tim Hutchful said.

“While overloaded and heavy handbags are a common culprit, some more unexpected items like skinny jeans can also wreak havoc.

“New trends such as asymmetric hemlines, oversized sleeves and hoods and heavy jewellery can also create problems.”

The findings name skinny jeans, big bags worn on one side of the body, coats with large fluffy hoods, high-heeled shoes and backless shoes as the worst offenders.

The research found skinny jeans restrict free movement in areas such as the hips and knees while oversized sleeves can affect the movement of arms.

“Restrictive clothing can lead to a loss of ‘bounce’ in your stride and the natural shock-absorbing qualities in your walk, causing pressure on your joints,” Mr Hutchful said.

“Oversized sleeves can cause you to hold your arms in a different or unusual way, so once again your body will be compensating for your fashion choices.”

However, while medical professionals agreed that heeled shoes can cause back pain, more evidence is required to analyse the effects of these outfits on one’s health.

“I have seen many patients over the years with back pain who will say that wearing heels of any height would aggravate their spines,” University of Technology Sydney Dr Toby Newton-John said.

“Tilting your pelvis forward with an elevated heel throws out the normal biomechanics of the spine, which can cause back pain and change spinal or joint biomechanics,” Dr Newton-John told The New Daily.

“And I have no doubt people with back pain do complain that heavy jewellery or heavy clothing would make their pain worse.

“But until we have good scientific evidence I’d be cautious of believing all of this.”

The survey states that 73 per cent of women from a sample of more than 2000 said they have had back pain, with more than a quarter agreeing their clothing affects their posture.

Dr Newton-John said there may be multiple explanations behind the possible link, saying the results are a  “post hoc interpretation” – that it hasn’t been tested imperially, but once people report a finding they subsequently interpret that.

“It could be the rolling around on the floor trying to pull the jeans up because they are too tight to get on that causes the back pain, rather than anything to do with circulatory problems,” he suggested.

BCA provided their top tips for staying stylish and back pain free:

  • Variation is key: Shift the pressure on these areas by varying the styles of clothes you wear every day.
  • Keep it loose: Tighter clothes restrict your body from moving freely so looser clothing is a good choice.
  • Put the bag down: Trade out heavy, one strap for backpacks, distribute weight evenly across both shoulders, when you can.
  • Put your best foot forward: If you wear high heels counteract any potential damage by wearing trainers or shoes with a lower heel from time to time.
  • Get the right support: Ensure you find a bra that fits properly so that your shoulders don’t take all the strain.
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