When fashion is bad for health

When fashion is bad for our health

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting dressed up. I can spend hours in department stores fawning over handbags, high heels and pretty lacy things. Unfortunately, for us girls, fashion often means pain. Here I’ll discuss the worst trends for our bodies, and which trends are downright dangerous.

Sorry to break it to you girls, but stiletto high heels are awful for our bodies. Excessively high heels (more than about 4cm) throw our centre of gravity forward, meaning that our toes are being forced to carry all of our body weight, and our hips are put under pressure leading to an increase arch in our back. Stilettos often have very thin heels too, meaning that we’re more likely to fall over or roll an ankle.

Stilettos with pointed toes (and to a lesser extent flats with pointed toes) encourage our big toes to get squashed inwards, leading to a bulging of the joint of our big toe and potential thickening of bone. This is known as a bunion, and whilst it may be unsightly, it can be very painful and require surgery in some cases.

Massive handbags
Who doesn’t love a fantastic bucket bag – they look great, fit everything including the kitchen sink, and add a bit of Ashley Olsen flair to any outfit. The problem is, they also drag shoulders down, and put excessive strain on out upper back and neck.
Inevitably, big bags will end up carrying superfluous stuff. No one needs to be carrying a massive novel, make up case, phone book, gym gear and their regular handbag sundries all of the time. Heavy bags mean prolonged periods of carrying excess weight on (usually a single) shoulder.

For those of us who work at a desk, we’re usually a little bit weak in our upper back and shoulder stabilizing muscles anyway, so the strain of carrying a big bag might lead to pain down the track. Ditch the excess and go with a smaller bag with less stuff in it, and swap shoulders often!

Corsets (including waist trainers)

No one needs to be carrying a massive novel, make up case, phone book, gym gear and their regular handbag sundries all of the time.

Corsets have to be the epitome of stupid fashion. Whilst I could get on my high horse about the social inequality about making women feel like they are less attractive unless they have unnaturally tiny waists, I’ll simply point out the biological and physical reasons why no one should bother with these awful contraptions:

  • Corsets deliberately compress your abdomen. The vast majority of our vital organs exist in the space between our hips and our rib cages, so these devices compress and squeeze these organs which could potentially cause damaging conditions such as bowel blockages or abdominal bleeding. Corset like devices, when laced very tightly, may also restrict blood from travelling from the legs back up to the heart, leading to fainting, swollen feet and damage to blood vessels.
  • Corsets do not allow our diaphragms to move the way they are supposed to, thus change the efficiency in which we can breathe. If we cannot breathe properly due to the major breathing muscle being compressed, (especially when exercising!), fainting or light headedness may occur, and strains or sprains of the upper ribs and shoulder muscles are likely to occur. It is dangerous to exercise whilst deliberately reducing oxygen intake.
  • Corsets are likely to reduce lymphatic flow. Our lymphatic system is the system which moves immune cells and fluid through out body, picking up any waste products and helping to eliminate them from our system. Good lymphatic flow is necessary for a healthy immune system. Poor lymphatic flow can cause pimples, rashes, lethargy and fluid retention.
  • Corsets probably weaken our back muscles. The waist trainer compresses our abdomen and back to the point of rigidity, so it is difficult to target the muscles in our back during exercise, hence they become lazy and weak.

Seriously – stick to some pretty but non restrictive underwear. Safer and more comfortable!

In my next blog I will discuss more fashion trends that can be bad for our Health. Stay tuned!

Keep well,


Claire Richardson

Claire Richardson

Dr Claire Richardson loves what osteopathy offers her patients and how it can help people of all different ages and backgrounds. Claire treats a wide range of patients, from the young through to the elderly, including office workers, athletes, pregnant women and tradesmen. Claire enjoys treating all musculoskeletal ailments, from sports injuries to postural problems. She employs a wide variety of techniques in her treatment, including soft tissue massage, dry needling, and joint and muscle manipulation where appropriate. As part of her treatments, Claire advises on contributing lifestyle factors such as activity and diet which enables her patients to have an optimal and speedy recovery.

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