The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) offers advice on fashion do’s and don’ts during National Women’s Health Week

Many women make common fashion mistakes that negatively affect their spinal health. High heels, heavy bags and tight clothing, such as skinny jeans, are a few culprits that cause back pain. If you’re in pain and you’re not sure why, it may be time to look at what you’re wearing. "Even the biggest fashionista won't look her best if her outfit is causing aches and pains," says Karen Erickson, DC, FACC.

Women deserve beauty...and health. Follow these tips and you can have both: 

  • Choose comfortable shoes. If you must wear high heels, bring a pair of flat shoes along with you to change into should you become uncomfortable. If you want to walk to work, wear flats with good arch support and change into work-appropriate shoes when you arrive at your office.
  • When choosing slip-on footwear, such as classic pumps or ballet flats, do the “shake test.” Shake your foot and if your shoe doesn’t fall off, then the shoe properly fits. If it does fall off, it means you’re scrunching your toes while you walk in order to keep the shoe secure. Ballet flats, mules and clogs can force you to scrunch your toes when walking, altering your gait and stressing your feet and spine.
  • Avoid wearing excessively tight pants or clothing. Tight clothing can stress the nerve in your upper thigh, causing numbness and a condition called meralgia paraesthetica.
  • When carrying a bag or briefcase, switch sides frequently to avoid placing the burden of the weight on one side of your body.
  • Empty unnecessary items from your bag daily to reduce its weight.
  • It’s important to consider where a handbag hits you when you walk. You don’t want to wear a purse so long that it knocks you in the legs, or so high that you can’t swing your arms. Both can create problems with your gait and trigger neck, shoulder or back pain.

For more information or to speak with Dr. Erickson who can offer additional guidance on this topic, please contact Amanda Donohue at [email protected] or 703-812-0209. In addition, ACA offers several graphics with fashion tips. To find a doctor of chiropractic near you, visit ACA's website.