Suffer from a crook neck, headaches or a bad back? The trigger could be lurking in your home! These seven everyday items look innocent enough, but they might just be responsible for your pain. So, how many do you use each day?
1. Handbag, Man Bag or Laptop Bag
There’s a reason physios are mad about backpacks. Slinging a heavy bag over one shoulder isn’t really doing you or your posture any favours. In fact, it could be the cause of your neck and back pain, as well as those pesky headaches.
How so? Lugging a heavy shoulder bag causes a downwards tilt of the shoulder. To prevent the bag from falling, we then lift that shoulder, causing overuse of the neck and shoulder muscles. This can put stress on the neck and upper back, leading to pain and, oftentimes, headaches.
If a cross-body bag’s your go-to, make sure the straps are adjusted so the bag sits close to the body and not too low past the hips. This allows the weight to be distributed evenly across the chest and back. And as for those backpacks? Keep the straps short so the bag sits snugly against the lower back. If it’s too low, you’ll hunch forward to compensate the backwards force.
2. Grocery Bags
Grocery bags aren’t entirely innocent either, and carrying too much weight can overwork the tendons of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. To shop smart, always try and carry similar sized and weighted loads in both hands. And DO make use of a shopping centre trolley, rather than struggling to the car with your load.
No car? No problem. A pull trolley is an excellent way to transport your weekly shop!
Our increasing reliance on our smartphones is great news for Apple and Samsung, but terrible news for our bodies. To hold our phones, we raise our shoulder, lower our ear and tilt our head at an unnatural angle. Which causes – you guessed it – neck pain. (Hint: use ear phones whenever possible to prevent strain).
Physios are also seeing an increase in phone-related injuries to the tendons and joints in the hand and arm. These are caused by repetitive fine motor movements, such as texting. It’s not just an adult problem, either. These types of injuries are a growing problem for kids and teens, who often spend hours playing games or on social media.
4. Book, iPad or eReader
It might seem a stretch to blame a book for your neck pain. But it’s not. Many people read in bed – whether that be a good old fashioned book, or from their iPad or eReader – which encourages a forward head posture and downward head tilt. With gravity acting to drag your head down, you’ll have to work harder through the neck and shoulder muscles to hold your head high enough to continue reading. This causes overloading through the muscles, and neck pain and headaches.
5. High Heels
You’ve probably heard this one before! Wearing high heels regularly (3+ times per week) is one of the biggest causes of foot and ankle pain in women. High heels are problematic for numerous reasons: they put an increased load on the knee joint and can lead to osteoarthritis; they can overload the lumbar spine and cause back injury; and they can even give you bunions. But that doesn’t mean you have to give them up! Check out some handy tips on reducing foot pain from high heels.
6. Rubber Thongs
On the flip side, flip flops aren’t that great either. Regular rubber thongs are flat with zero arch support, which is particularly problematic for those with increased pronation (inwards foot roll). We typically claw our toes to keep our thongs in place, which can result in damage to the ligaments and joints of the feet, and the flat heel can also play havoc with the Achilles.
(Thankfully, an answer is at hand.)
7. Spray-on Jeans
They may be part of your daily uniform, but you should probably rethink any jeans that require a coat hanger to shoe-horn yourself into. Ultra-skinny jeans can squeeze the nerves in your groin and legs, and alter the sensation in the legs. Be on the lookout for pins and needles or numbness.
For more information about the seven most common signs you need orthotics, make sure to check our latest blog!
Pete Hunt is a highly skilled physiotherapist with nearly three decades of experience working in sports physiotherapy and private practice. The Director of The Alignment Studio, he has a special interest in musculoskeletal and sports injuries, orthopaedic rehabilitation and postural syndrome. With a caring, communicative approach, Pete uses a combination of joint and soft tissue mobilisation and exercise prescription to treat his clients. He’s also passionate about education for injury prevention and lasting results.