When convenience and fashion cause pain
When convenience and fashion cause pain, there are ways of addressing it.
This is the age of smart devices and high fashion. We walk around cradling the digital version of the world in our palms, looking dapper in heels and tight fitting shoes that defy gravity and physics. This digital world never sleeps, constantly demanding our attention, to a well-established point of addiction. Footwear bows to the dictates of fashion, mechanics of foot and motion be damned.
Well, keeping up with the joneses comes at a price that affects not just our pockets but also our biomechanics, posture and mobility. We now have another source of pain in our lives, literally and figuratively.
Smart phones have taken over our lives. But they’ve only made us less smart about looking after our postural muscles, especially neck muscles. Constantly looking down into a hand held screen or jutting the neck out while using laptops is putting great pressure on our spines. Given the number of hours spent on these devices, you have the perfect recipe for acute and chronic neck, shoulder, back, elbow, wrist, and thumb pains!
Position the screen such that you can read comfortably at eye level, maintaining back of head, neck and spinal alignment. Set up your work desk correctly (height of table, screen and seating distance) and give it preference of use over hand held device. Not everything needs to be done on the phone or tablet, and instantly. To release neck and back stress, push the chin gently back with fingers and hold for a few seconds. Push the back of your head into your palms (clasped behind your head) and release. Gently press the side of your face into the palm (arm held up at shoulder level) and release. Do this for both sides. Repeat these exercises a few times during the day.
Always carrying purse or briefcase on the same side
This creates muscular imbalances between the two sides of the body, especially shoulder, neck and back, and often leads to chronic pain.
Address it :
Prefer sling bags. Wear the strap/sling diagonally across the body, frequently changing the shoulder you take it around. Adjust the strap length according to your height and weight of the bag. It shouldn’t rest too high or low. Likewise, if holding laptops and other items in the hand, shift weight between hands. The heavier the load, the more important this is. Try carrying your laptop on the back in a bag/case, especially if it’s a heavy version.
Love making a fashion statement with heels? Wear them much? One can’t challenge the oomph factor, but one can wear them with care. Keeping the feet in such elevated position for long, especially on pencil heels, can lead to chronic tightness in many muscles of the lower limbs, apart from generating joint stresses, back and hip pains. Men aren’t immune from fashion foot wear or uncomfortable office wear either. Hard soled and narrow pointed at toes shoes are common source of aches and pains in the feet and legs.
Select the type of heels wisely. Keep a pair of occasion friendly comfortable shoes as backup, to give the legs and feet a needed break. Restrict your time in heels to the extent possible. For all shoes, be mindful of the shape. It should be suited to your foot type (shape and build). There should be enough room for the toes to rest naturally. Pay attention to the sole and fabric/leather. It shouldn’t be too hard. Wear the right size. As silly as this seems, it is not so uncommon to see people fall for smaller sizes in the name of fashion with the hope that the shoe will expand with wear!
Address the stress
Stress is a known trigger for muscular spasms, aches and pains. It impacts breathing and functioning of structures, leading to poor posture. Allowed to fester, it can create painful knots in muscles further causing deep or chronic pain.
Practice mindfulness and coping techniques like Pranayama and Yoga. Pursue activities that make you happy while keeping you active. Take breaks, switch off periodically, hit the outdoors whenever you can to rejuvenate. Draw boundaries with work and people and honor them zealously to do yourself a favour.
**Read the published version of this article in THE HINDU here