The fact that high heels cause back pain is an old story but it seems like many more of our favourite wardrobe staples are equally guilty. A March 2017 study from the British Chiropractic Association accuses skinny jeans, winter coats with oversized, fluffy hoods, large, heavy bags and backless shoes of committing crimes against spine alignment.

Regardless of their price, poor footwear is often behind back pain and ankle sprains. Flat soles allow bodyweight to be evenly distributed across the feet, but high heels push force on the balls of the feet, with increasing pressure for every centimetre. Examining the effect of high heels as we travel up the body, we see that calf muscles shorten, the lower back gets pushed forward and so does the chest. The aesthetic high heels create is fashionable but far from healthy. Worryingly, when high heels are worn frequently, these anatomical changes become permanent. If you choose to wear high heels, minimise the damage by changing the pair of shoes you wear often. Instead of buying stilettos, purchase platforms, wedges and kitten heels instead.

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Backless shoes, or any shoes that fail to encase the foot comfortably result in the foot sliding around the shoe. To compensate, the body has to find grip by scrunching the toes or changing the gait – all contributing to back pain after a full day of wear! For stability, avoid mules and select heels that encase the heel and include ankle straps.

Over the shoulder bags
A decade ago, the sheer size of the
Chloe It-bag weighed down fashionistas. Today, it could easily be a gym bag slung across the shoulder or a handbag weighed down with excessive contents causing bodily harm. When using a bag it doesn’t take long to start feeling the strain in the neck and shoulders. At the end of the day when the bag is finally put down, it is common for the side of the body, hips and dominant shoulder to feel sore too. To avoid pain, keep bags as small and light as possible, switch carrying a bag from the left to right shoulder every ten minutes, and even engage the core muscles as you walk like you would holding weights at the gym. Cross-body designs are the least harmful, as long as they’re compact and lightweight.

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Restrictive clothing
Did you know that skinny jeans can significantly contribute to back pain? The tight, restrictive material puts pressure on the pelvis, hips and the legs, effectively interfering with the wearers natural movement. UK
chiropractor Rishi Loatey explained the problem in more detail in an interview with “You’ve got a natural gait, or stride, that you would take, and the knee, hip and lower back all move to minimise the pressure coming up through the joints. However, if one of those areas isn’t moving as it should be, it’s going to cause more pressure elsewhere.” The tighter they are the more mobility is restricted so recent fashions for looser styles, like boyfriend jeans, are a safer alternative.


Being a slave to fashion can have lasting impacts on the body. While the items detailed above are major culprits for causing back pain, heavy coats with hoods hurt the neck, heavy statement necklaces strain the neck as well, or il-fitting bras put posture out of alignment. The fact is, what you wear everyday has an effect on your body. The key to avoiding back pain is to pay attention to the messages your body sends. When you need to rub your neck, or stretch your arms, or if your hips feel too tight, understand that it is your body’s way of saying that what you’re wearing is hurting you. Next time you eye a beautiful $2000 handbag, remember the true cost is likely to be an additional $2000 in medical bills.