Are you carrying around a purse that weighs more than 10 percent of your body weight? And are you doing that while wearing high heels with pointy toes? That’s asking an awful lot of your joints and muscles and may explain your neck and back pain.
“Large purses and briefcases can cause shoulder, neck, elbow and back pain, and even serious injury,” says Sara L. Edwards, orthopaedic surgeon and spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “And wearing poorly fitting shoes, especially those with high heels, platforms or pointed toes, can result in bunions, hammer toes, corns, knee and lower back pain and other conditions. I’ve seen many women with ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries from wearing wedge sandals and high heels. I’ve also seen men with foot conditions from ill-fitting dress or work shoes.” The AAOS has a few suggestions:
- Pack heavier items low and toward the center
- Wearing your purse on your shoulder is better than in the crook of your arm, but switch sides often
- If you have a long strap, wear the bag diagonally over the opposite shoulder and hip
It’s not that hard too lighten the load. Go through the items in your purse one by one — do you really need each item with you every day?
- Backpacks should have two adjustable, padded shoulder straps.
- Use compartments to distribute the weight.
- Backpacks should not be carried over one shoulder.
Get together with your kids and go through their backpacks. Make sure they’re not carrying around unnecessary items just because they don’t want to take the time to clear them out.
- If you need to walk around a lot, don’t wear a heel higher than 2-1/4 inches.
- If you prefer higher heels at work, wear a more comfortable pair for walking (you can keep the high heels at the office so you don’t have to carry an extra pair).
- Make sure you buy shoes that fit properly — you should have wiggle room for your toes so they don’t feel pinched or cramped.
- Choose shoes that support your arches.
Some “fashionable” shoes are nothing short of torture devices. They may look pretty when you’re sitting down, but pay attention to how they make you walk and how they make you feel. It’s only going to get worse as you age.
- When your feet feel tired, give ‘em a break — elevate your feet and legs to relieve pressure.
- Stretch your legs and feet in the morning, before you put on your shoes.
- Heed warning signs from your feet — calluses, blisters, and localized swelling may be your feet crying out for help — consider buying some new shoes.
The thing is, wearing high heels and carrying heavy bags throws your whole body out of alignment. If you’re hurting, listen to what your body is telling you.
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