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From the Runway to the Emergency Room

The High “Price” Our Bodies Pay for High Fashion

In the “Look At Me” culture we now live in, it is no wonder who you wear is just as important as what you wear. However, instead of designer labels, there are some trends today that should come with warning labels.

“Six-inch stilettos, over-sized heavy handbags, toothpick tight jeans – the average woman is no stranger to suffering for fashion,” says Dr. Michael A. Gleiber, a South Florida Board-Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and Affiliate Assistant Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences at The Charles E. Schmidt Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine for Spine Surgery.

Dr. Gleiber has offices in Boca Raton and Jupiter practicing Concierge Spine Surgery and Spinal Medicine. He is also on staff at The University of Miami Hospital.

“Women may pay a high price for fashion and I’m not talking about the amount of money those designer bags and shoes cost – I’m talking about the price of your health. Certain fashion trends can take their toll if women and men do not take steps to correct them. Don’t let your sense of style put your health at risk.”

Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Is Your Over-Sized Handbag Causing Back Pain?

Heavy handbags, computer bags – even dog carriers with a 10-pound pooch inside can cause back pain. “Inside a typical handbag, you may find a phone, iPad, wallet, makeup bag, a bottle of water, book or magazine – maybe an extra pair of shoes,” says Dr. Gleiber. “They seem like little things, but they add weight – up to 10 pounds and carrying all that weight can cause shoulder and neck pain.”

According to Dr. Gleiber, when it comes to fashion, putting extra weight on one side of your body is one of the biggest back pain causes. Any time you carry weight on one side of your body for an extended period of time, it causes your spine to curve, and that leads to back pain symptoms.

Recommendation: Aim for symmetry. Choose a bag that you can wear diagonally across your body rather than a single-strap bag that rests on one shoulder. “When you can’t avoid using a single-strap bag, be conscious of changing the sides you use to carry it,” advises Dr. Gleiber.

Backpacks Can Be a Pain in the Neck (and shoulders) for Kids

The Price of FashionIn these days of iPads and laptops, online learning and e-books, it seems like a backpack would be unnecessary. But as kids headed back to school this month, they are still loaded down with traditional books, as well as notebooks, binders, folders and calculators. It all adds up and tips the scale in an unhealthy direction.

“Unfortunately, most kids are wearing backpacks that are too heavy for them,” says Dr. Gleiber. As a father of two boys, Dr. Gleiber is all too familiar with the problem. “A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 15% to 20% of his or her body weight. If a child starts complaining about neck, back or shoulder pain, parents should look at the backpack first.”

Less is More: Wallets are Causing Men Pain and It has Nothing to do with a Lack of Cash

Millions of men drive with their wallet in their back pocket and sit on them at their desk at work. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things you can do for your back. “Back pain and sciatica is often caused by sitting on a thick and heavy wallet that throws your pelvic balance off triggering chronic pain in your back, hips and shoulders,” says Dr. Gleiber.

According to Dr. Gleiber, eventually, you may compress the sciatic nerve – it runs from each side of the spine down through the back of each thigh to the foot – and cause sciatica, searing leg pain and numbness. The piriformis muscle near your glutes may also get aggravated, which can irritate the nerve and trigger lower back and sciatic pain.

Sole Searching: Your “Killer” Heels May Be Killing Much More Than You Think

The Price of FashionStella McCartney. Giuseppe Zanotti. Christian Louboutin. These designers are synonymous with today’s most sought after styles including sky high pumps and heels. Unfortunately, the pain you feel while walking in your 6-inch Louboutins is a symptom of the real damage high heels may be doing to your body including your back and neck.

“The structure of the foot is just not meant to be crammed in the shoe that way,” says Dr. Gleiber. “It just puts the body in a very unnatural position. Excessive wearing of high heels can have a negative impact on the body.”

According to Dr. Gleiber, when you wear high heels – shoes with a heel two inches or higher – your foot slides forward in your shoe, forcing the toes into the unnatural shape of the shoe and redistributing your weight incorrectly. The increased weight on your toes causes your body to tilt forward, and to compensate you lean backwards and overarch your back, creating a posture that can strain your knees, hips, and lower back.

There’s no denying that flip-flops are a summer shoe staple and Ugg boots have become a go-to winter footwear. Unfortunately, neither style of shoes offers proper support. Dr. Gleiber believes because the foot does not get the proper support on the inside, it will lead to more ankle, knee, hip and back problems. “Flip-flops and Ugg boots are designed like slippers. Meaning, as the foot slides around, you get wear and tear on the joints on the inside of the foot. The ankle is in the wrong position, the thigh bone also changes position, and you get an abnormal movement in the pelvis, which leads to back problems.”

The Skinny on Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans have become the quintessential fashion staple for many women especially in the fall. Unfortunately, trying to squeeze into them is more than an inconvenience – Dr. Gleiber warns that an overly tight fit could actually cause nerve damage. Studies have shown that skinny jeans have been linked to a myriad of health issues, including nerve compression, digestive problems and lower back pain.

According to Dr. Gleiber, a disorder called meralgia paresthetica occurs when one of the nerves on the outer part of the thigh compresses and pressure on it causes symptoms of tingling and numbness and pain. Pair those skinny jeans with a pair of ultra high-heels, and your risk for upsetting this particular nerve increases.

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