Post provided by The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery
Our choice of shoes and bags may be placing unnecessary stress on joints and muscles that over time may cause serious pain or injury.
“Large purses and briefcases can cause shoulder, neck, elbow and back pain, and even serious injury,” said San Francisco orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson Sara L. Edwards, MD. “And wearing poorly fitting shoes, especially those with high heels, platforms or pointed toes, can result in bunions, hammer toes, corns, knee and lower back pain and other conditions. I’ve seen many women with ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries from wearing wedge sandals and high heels. I’ve also seen men with foot conditions from ill-fitting dress or work shoes.”
Fortunately, being fashionable doesn’t have to hurt. Members of the AAOS, the doctors who treat muscle and joint pain and injury, offer the following tips for avoiding shoe and bag related pain and injury.
Rethink your purse, briefcase or backpack
- In general, your handbag should not exceed 10 percent of your body weight. This means a 150 pound person should carry no more than 15 pounds.
- When packing your briefcase or large purse, pack heavier items low and toward the center.
- Do not carry a heavy briefcase, tote or purse for long periods of time; if you must, wear your purse or bag over your shoulder (not in the crook of your arm which can strain the elbow muscles and joints) and switch sides often. If possible, carry your bag diagonally over the opposite shoulder and hip.
Buy and wear the right shoe
- Try on new shoes (both the left and the right) at the end of the day. Your feet normally swell and become larger after standing or sitting during the day.
- There should be 1/2-inch space from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe.
- Your toes should not feel pinched or cramped. You should be able to wiggle them freely.
- Most high heeled-shoes have a pointed, narrow toe box that crowds the toes and forces them into an unnatural triangular shape. Over time, this can cause the foot to take on the shape of the shoe causing deformities like hammer toes and corns.
- There is no such thing as a "break-in period." With time, a foot may push or stretch a shoe to fit, but this can cause foot pain and damage.
- Shoes that lace or buckle, have Velcro or some type of strapping mechanism, provide more support to your arch.
- Routine foot and leg stretching exercises, such as rolling your foot over a tennis or golf ball or stretching your legs and feet before you get out of bed, can strengthen muscles and alleviate pain, especially as you age.
- After a long day of walking or standing, elevate your feet and legs to relieve pressure.