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Focus on Women

Women can face very specific posture related challenges that can lead to problems with back and neck pain. Following some simple advice can make all the difference.

Tim Hutchful, chiropractor and member of the British Chiropractic Association comments “Large handbags are a fashion must these days but can pose a risk to posture and could potentially cause or contribute to back problems. Large bags can weigh up to 3kgs before anything gets put in it and this only gets worse as it is loaded up!”
Tim’s top tips:

o The lighter you keep your bag the better, especially if you have to carry it about all day. The most important thing is to check the contents of your bag(s) each day and only carry those items you need for the day ahead – it is surprising how many people carry unnecessary weight each and every day.
o If buying a single strap bag, make sure the strap is long enough so you can wear the bag cross body, enabling you to keep the bag and it’s weight close to your body. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed when carrying a bag in this way.
o Avoid holding a bag with long straps high up in the crook of your arm or down towards your knees as this will put an uneven load on your body.
o There is no ‘maximum’ weight for a bag, as it all depends on the size and strength of the person and the style of bag used. Bags that distribute weight more evenly across the back will put less strain on the body, so something like a rucksack is always best as long as it is carried on both shoulders and the straps adjusted so that the bag is held close to your back.


Research carried out at Stanford University, USA found that high heeled shoes, along with additional weight, may contribute to an increased risk of osteoarthritis.
Tim says “Our feet carry all of our weight and the shoes we chose have a lot to do with the way we walk and the pressure we put on the rest of the body. Feet need a surface which allows them to bend, grip and roll as you walk, which is difficult to do when constantly wearing heels. It would seem sensible to wear high heels only in moderation and look to lower the heel height you wear in order to avoid too many problems”.


Tim’s top tips:
o Tense your pelvic floor muscles. Keep your head upright and don’t stick your chest out.
o Put your shoulders back and chest in. Spread weight evenly over the whole shoe when walking.
o Don’t walk too fast, be elegant. If you think you’ll be in a hurry wear something flatter and more supportive and pop the heels in your bag.

Good footwear is important for your back health and soft-soled shoes that are supportive are the key. If you regularly wear high heels it is important to wear trainers or shoes with smaller heels from time to time.  
According to Tim “Bras are like suspension bridges, you need a well engineered bra so your shoulders don’t take all of the strain and end up doing all of the work; spreading the load is important. Bras that don’t fit will affect the shoulders and chest and may cause back pain as you get older. It is so important to make sure a bra gives you enough support as possible. The message must be to get properly fitted for a bra and replace old ones when they start to lose their supportive properties ”.
Tim tells us “Restrictive clothing like pencil skirts and skinny jeans can stop the body from moving freely so when you perform certain movements in tight clothes regularly, this can lead to injury. When choosing an outfit each day, variety is key – wearing the same type of outfit every day could be restricting the same part of your body, putting unnecessary strain on it – it’s important to share the load.”  
Tim’s top tips:
o Keep your outfit styles varied: Try and avoid wearing the same outfit combination every day as this could restrict movement in certain areas of your body, which could then cause you injury.
o Try to match your clothes choices to the tasks of the day. Tight, restrictive clothing will cause you more problems if you are going to be doing a lot of lifting and carrying, for example.