• Beauty is Bad for Your Back

    “It’s better to look good than to feel good.” ~ Billy Crystal as Fernando  on Saturday Night Live – yes, it was years ago but I’m old 😉

    back pain

    Photo courtesy ABMP

    Our society favors beauty, often at the expense of physical comfort. There are lots of ways that beauty compromises our health and hurts our back but I’m only going to focus of 3 of them today.

    1. Modeling our posture on that of models/mannequins – Have you noticed the mannequins in the window displays at the mall, or the teenage girls walking through the mall? Have you noticed that they both have their backs arched? Many of them look as if they’re in the beginning stage of a backbend, with their head at one end of a giant C and their hips at the other. While their back may not hurt now, it will pay the price later. How can it not? Only the neck and low back are supposed to curve in that direction; the upper back should curve the opposite way for balance. I have a hard time not running through the mall handing my card to all those teenage girls while saying “You may feel ok now, but your back is gonna start hurting soon. When it does, call me for a massage. You’re gonna NEED it!”

    2. High heels – I’m sure you hate to hear it, yet again, but those heels are killing your back.  Our bodies are perfectly balanced when our feet are flat on the ground – well, they’re designed to be, anyway. When you raise your heels, it throws the body out of balance and the knees, hips, spine, shoulders, neck, and head have to compensate. The higher your heels are off the ground, the more your body has to compensate, which means, the higher the heel the more damage and pain it will cause. I’m not saying never to wear heels, or even to completely avoid those 6 inch heels that make your legs look as if they go on forever. I’m simply advocating moderation and not just owning, but also wearing flats (or going barefoot) part of every day to bring the body back into balance. Caveat: if your feet hurt in flats or when you’re barefoot, damage has already been done. Your body should not hurt when it’s in it’s normal state.

    3. Sucking in your stomach – I know it makes you look skinnier, but holding in your stomach or using slimming or reshaping garments is bad news for not only your back but also your ribcage, shoulders, and your hips. First rule of breathing: both your chest and abdomen should expand and contract while breathing. The diaphragm is one of the primary muscles involved in breathing; it’s responsible for expanding and contracting your chest and abdomen. When you restrict expansion of your abdomen the diaphragm can’t do it’s job fully and the neck, back, and hip muscles have to get involved to help out, and they’re NOT designed to help out for long stretches of time – like, say… All Day. This puts those helper muscles under a great deal of stress and when muscles get stressed they usually hurt. I’m not saying you shouldn’t wear your slimming garments, just that you should wear them for as short a time as possible. Remember, the shorter the duration of gut holding, the smaller the price you’ll pay later. (Hey, I don’t make the rules… I just report them)

    I always feel like such a killjoy when I tell people that their pain is because of something they do to look good; but, truth is truth. Now, I would never tell you NOT to do something that makes you feel good about your appearance, but I will tell you what effect it’s having on your body so you can make an informed decision. I think that’s fair.

    I hope you found this informative (even if you found it somewhat depressing). Let me know your experience with sacrificing comfort for beauty. Are you willing to suffer for the sake of beauty? Or are you more of a comfort before fashion kinda person?

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