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Clothing for a better posture

As an Osteopath, I take considerable effort in thinking laterally about how each patient has developed pain and give advice on how you can self-help, minimising any recurrence of a problem.

One of my many observations when a patient arrives is what type of clothes / shoes are they wearing and what are they carrying. In a previous article on shoes I said I was not going to be a complete killjoy, telling you never to wear high heels! Likewise here, the idea is to simply give some advice on how to avoid creating issues through your choice of clothing.

Minimise the risk

I would like to start by considering the impact, on your body, of lifting an object and then compare that to what clothes you wear day to day. Hopefully, we all know how to lift correctly, i.e. bending at the hips and knees, keeping the back straight, incorporating our core muscles and lifting with our legs rather than our back. In an ideal situation, that normally works – but it is often not that simple, for example, if we are lifting an object in a confined space and cannot position ourselves correctly. In that situation we should stop, stand back and make a plan before rushing in.

Likewise I believe this can be compared to how your clothing may impact the ability of your body to move freely. Wearing clothes that are loose, allowing us to move without restriction, is like lifting a simple, small, lightbox in an open space. Wearing clothes that interrupt our normal locomotion will have an impact on our musculoskeletal system in the same way as when our lifting technique is compromised in a confined space.

Tips for better clothing

  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, particularly trousers that stop you bending at the hips and knees. Try clothes that are looser, or made of materials that are stretchy
  • Avoid wearing tight skirts that stop you from being able to stride out fully when walking
  • Heavy jewellery can increase pressure on the neck; try choosing lighter materials
  • Avoid tying anything too tightly, e.g. halter neck tops can pressurise the neck if too tight, compromising your posture
  • Avoid straps that are too tight over the shoulders
  • Avoid shoes that throw you off your normal centre of gravity. If wearing heels go for a chunkier heel not a stiletto
  • Empty your bag of any unnecessary items, carry a backpack where you can and if carrying a shoulder bag, wear it across your body if possible. Sorry to be a killjoy again!
  • Finally, it is claimed around 80% of women wear a poorly fitting bra, potentially causing tension around the shoulders, mid back and ribs. I commonly see ladies wearing bras that are so tight I’m not sure how on earth they managed to do them up! A professional fitting is highly recommended.

So next time you go clothes shopping, let your well-being come first!