Sometimes the causes of neck and back pain are obvious – hours spent hunched over your steering wheel or computer … an injury from a weekend basketball game … or wrenching your back while digging in your garden, for example.

Other times, your neck and back may ache and you have no idea why. This is perhaps most frustrating of all, as when you’re unclear on the cause it can be difficult to accurately treat and, better yet, cure. If you have unexplained neck or back pain, here’s an unexpected factor to consider: your clothes. In fact, even if you know the reason for your pain, your clothing could be making it worse.

Avoid These Clothing Items if You Have Neck or Back Pain

If you have neck or back pain, where the following items at your own risk …

  1. Flip-Flops

The lack of structure of flip-flops, including having to “hold” them on with your toes as you take each step, actually alters your gait, leading to a shorter stride length and a larger ankle angle as you grip the shoes with your toes. Not only can this cause issues with your lower legs, knees and hips, but also wearing flip-flops can cause back pain. According to Auburn University researcher Justin Shroyer:

“We found that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back … Variations like this at the foot can result in changes up the kinetic chain, which in this case can extend upward in the wearer’s body.”

  1. High Heels

Wearing high heels alters muscle-coordination patterns in your trunk and hips, which research suggests may lead to “abnormal spine loading patterns and increases the risk for developing musculoskeletal injuries.” If you must wear heels, keep them short and limit the amount of time you spend in them.

  1. Heavy Backpacks

When you carry a heavy backpack, it may cause changes in postural angles and increased pain. Among children, research shows worsening postural changes in those carrying backpacks in accordance with weight of the pack and time spent carrying the load. This puts the children at increased risk of pain, which, in turn, is a strong predictor of back pain in adulthood as well.[iv] The warning holds true for adults, too, however, especially if you carry an overly stuffed backpack regularly.

  1. Tight Neckties

If your necktie is too tight, it can lead to less range of motion in your neck and increased muscle tension in your back, neck and shoulders. How tight is too tight? If you can’t slip a finger between your neck and your shirt collar, your tie is too tight.

  1. Skinny Jeans and Pencil Skirts

The problem with skinny jeans and pencil skirts is they can make it difficult to move naturally. When you need to bend over, you may not be able to bend at your knees, potentially leading to a pulled muscle or disc problems. Both skinny jeans and pencil skirts can also change your normal walking gait and posture, leading to back pain.

  1. Heavy Necklaces

Your neck is already responsible for supporting the weight of your head. A heavy necklace can be the tipping point. As chiropractor Tim Hutchful of the British Chiropractic Association told the Daily Mail:

“Anything that pulls the neck forwards or backwards tips the head away from its point of neutral balance … This can create neck tension, pain and damage, and long-term could encourage a slouched posture with damaging consequences for the back.”

  1. Halter Tops

Halter tops have a tendency to pull your neck forward as they don’t distribute weight evenly across your shoulders. This is especially true for women with a large bust and may occur from any type of halter top, sports bra, bikini top, etc. Hutchful continued:

“The strain on your neck will create muscle tension and can pull you in to a highly damaging form of posture called “anterior carriage” where the neck sticks forwards on the body, with the shoulders rounded and slumped.”

  1. Improperly Fitted Bras

An improperly fitted bra will not give you the proper support, which can put you at risk of back and breast pain. Thin straps are common culprits, as thicker straps can help to spread out the pressure on your shoulders. Richard Moore, a consultant osteopath and sports massage therapist, told the Daily Mail.

“If you are well endowed, an ill-fitting, unsupportive bra can cause you to slump and fold your shoulders forward, and lead to painful postural disorders.”

For best results, see a specialist for professional bra fitting.


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