It’s a tale as old as time: the never-ending war between what is in fashion versus what is comfortable for us to wear. demonstrates the many ways that people in favorite sitcoms and movies endure pain all in the name of fashion, in their “Fashion Hurts” collection that is so vast that they offer even more specialized selections such as “Of Corset Hurts” and “High Heel Hurt.” I for one think that life comes with enough pain all on its own without inflicting pain on ourselves. But it stands to reason, what fashions do chiropractors really wish we would keep out of our closets or at least limit wearing too often?

What not to wear, according to your chiropractor

(Adapted from The Joint Chiropractic’s “Why Chiropractors Hate These Fashion Trends”)

  • High heels- This fashion accessory is probably on many chiropractors’ hit list. As beautiful as they are, they often lead to pain and injuries. Heels put more weight on the balls of the feet, disrupting balance. These shoes can also cause back ache by adding more stress to the spine, as well as foot pain, knee problems and ankle injuries.
  • Shoes without backs- If your shoe doesn’t have a back, might I suggest going back to the store for a more sensible choice? With or without a heel, backless shoes put more weight on the balls of the feet. No support for the back of the foot throws off balance and adds stress to the back and legs.
  • Skinny jeans- If your pants look like they could be painted on, that might be a problem. Skinny jeans can affect your hips and knees, making it harder to move and increasing injury risk. If your pants feel too tight, they probably are. These too-tight trendy pants can lead to abdominal pain and leg numbness from effected circulation.
  • The dreaded big bag- If your purse is the size of a backpack and resembles a CVS Pharmacy on the inside, it’s time to downsize. It can be easy to treat a purse like a grown-up security blanket, weighing it down with reassuring items that we might one day need instead of just the everyday essentials. But oversized purses can contribute to shoulder and back problems, especially as giant bags are harder to carry and end up being held in awkward positions.
  • Corsets- Please do not bring this Victorian nightmare into your closet. Celebrities may gush about them all over TikTok, but unless you want to suffer from possible rib damage and breathing problems, leave this trend at the renaissance fair where it belongs. Not-so-fun fact: corsets can also harm the back by atrophying the muscles, and corsets with wire or metal support are more likely to displace organs through putting more pressure on the body.
  • Heavy jewelry- Remember rapper Flavor Flav’s iconic, yet ridiculous, oversized clock necklaces? Though most people don’t go to those extremes, the fact remains that popular heavy oversize necklaces, earrings and bracelets weigh you down and can lead to strains. Try smaller jewelry made of lighter metals or lighter materials instead.

More Information About the Harm of Heels

We all know women that swear by their heels and hardly go anywhere without a pair on. These sassy shoes can make you look and feel taller, perhaps even feel more powerful and attractive. Yet the real cost of staying on top of fashion may not be what is listed on your receipt. The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) digs their heels in against excessive high heel wearing in their blog titled “Balancing the Hype and Harm of Heels.”

Believe it or not, the anatomy of feet is truly fascinating. Each foot has three arches, 26 bones, 30 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. Slipping on a pair of heels has an immediate effect on all that. Gait is affected, compromising the rollover functions of the foot, ankle, knees and lower back. Balance and standard step changes increase fall risk, stress fractures and sprain or strain injuries in the ankles. If high heels are worn on special occasions only and the wearer is aware of their movements, the risk can be somewhat mitigated.

Long-term wearers have more pain and potential deformity to beware. Over time, the actual structure of the foot will change to adapt to the shape of their shoes in a number of ways:

  • If you have noticed a bunion inside the foot near the big toe, that is known as Hallux Valgus. It’s a common deformity seen in heel wearers, as well as similar pinky toe abnormalities.
  • Haglund’s deformity is a lump on the back of the heel or heels near the Achilles tendon, often causing pain. It’s commonly associated with pump-style heels, so it can be called a pump-bump.
  • Long-term high heel wearers are more likely to deal with hammer toes, corns, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, flattened arches, knee damage, lower back pain and stress fractures.

Muscle efficiency and muscle fatigue can also be affected by wearing high heels. If you must wear high heels in moderation, look for flexible shoes with a wide toe box, try not to exceed two inches and perform stabilizing exercises to keep your feet and calf muscles strong. In general, be fun and fashionable, but also keep functionality in mind when selecting your wardrobe. Chiropractic care can help with pain related to high heels, fashion and other life challenges, but remember that a dose of prevention goes a long way.

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