KILLER HIGH HEELS
Could your killer heels be the death of you? Maire Bonheim lists the top fashion offenders that could be endangering your health
A quarter of women suffer from foot or ankle injuries while wearing high heels and more than half of GPs have treated ankle or foot injuries caused specifically by stiletto shoes.
In fact, there were almost two million high-heel related injuries just over the Christmas party season, from calf sprains to broken and twisted ankles and injuries from falls, according to Norwich Union Healthcare research.
'This research highlights a real concern that women are causing themselves some serious damage and all in the name of fashion,' said Dr Doug Wright, clinical spokesman for Norwich Union Healthcare. 'We're seeing an increase in the number of patients causing themselves pain and injury due to impractical footwear and we urge all women to show caution.'
But apart from the pain, embarrassment and ongoing discomfort of this sort of accident, wearing high heels long term can seriously harm your feet too, damaging the tendons in the heel and causing blisters, bunions, corns and calluses - some of which can even require surgery. Plus, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, heel pain and bumps and joint pains are never a good look.
And if that's not bad enough, consider this: research shows that wearing high-heeled shoes regularly causes long-term health problems such as a distortion of the lower spine and arthritis in the knees
Wright recommends that women take some sensible precautions when going out in high heels or new and unfamiliar shoes in order to reduce injury and ensure they have a great night out. These include wearing shoes with ankle straps to help hold feet in place, making sure your shoes are properly fitted, switching to flats during the day to give your calf muscles a break, and breaking your shoes in before a big night out to minimise the chance of blisters and painful friction.
BADLY FITTING BRAS
However, shoes aren't the only fashion health hazards. As many as 90 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size, many still hanging on to the same bra size they were fitted for years ago - irrespective of growing, losing weight or having children. And wearing the wrong bra could be causing your body serious damage, leading to shoulder tension, spinal restriction, decreased lung function, headaches and arm, chest and back pain, according to the British College of Osteopathic Medicine. There are even some researchers who believe that tight bras can increase breast cancer risk, due to the restriction causing decreased lymph drainage around the area.
If your bra is too loose, it is not supportive enough and if too tight and restrictive, it can lead to decreased lung function, back pain and loss of spinal movement. But women's sizes fluctuate, plus the bra size that best fits will vary according to the shop, manufacturer and style. The moral of the story? Get yourself properly fitted each time you buy a bra.
The crusty old make-up at the bottom of your cosmetics bag should be binned immediately to prevent damaging your eyes - in fact, it's dangerous to hang onto mascara for more than six months.
Research reveals that a quarter of British women are putting their eye health at risk by using bacteria-infected eye make-up that is more than four years old. Mascara in particular is a breeding ground for bacteria and can cause itchy, swelling and watery eyes.
But despite recommendations that eye make-up should be thrown away after six months, 92 per cent of women admit to keeping their mascara for longer than that, and nearly two-thirds of women use eye make-up that is more than two years old, according to a poll by the College of Optometrists.
The survey also revealed that a quarter of women also confessed to sharing eye makeup with friends, family and colleagues, despite one in ten admitting to frequently suffering from bacterial eye infections such as conjunctivitis.
'It's not surprising that our survey shows that nearly half of women suffer from itchy, watery and red eyes when women are holding onto their eye make-up for so long and sharing it among their friends,' says Dr Susan Blakeney, Optometric Adviser. 'Mascara can be a hot bed for bacteria, and most women are either unaware of or simply ignoring manufacturers' recommended use-by dates.
Thanks to the rise of hectic lifestyles and the oversized tote as the ultimate style accessory, the average weight of a woman's handbag, along with its contents, has soared over the past five years.
A typical bag now tops 2.4 kilos - a whopping 38 per cent increase - usually weighed down by phones, laptops, chargers, magazines, a change of shoes and beauty products, according to recent research by supermarket, Asda.
'Women have often complained that modern life is becoming a burden - and now we know they are right. They're carrying the equivalent of five bags of sugar with them, everywhere they go,' said Asda brand director Fiona Lambert.
But before you sling the kitchen sink over your shoulder, consider the damage you could be doing to your body. Heavy bags can damage your posture, cause serious muscle and nerve problems leading to severe back and neck pain and even curve or damage your spine.
TIGHT SKIRTS OR TROUSERS
The final offenders on our hit list of health hazards are skinny jeans, tight belts and figurehugging skirts. Not only will your movement and breathing be restricted, but tight-fitting clothing can also cause bad posture and a misaligned spine. Plus, it hampers your digestive system, leading to stomach cramps and bowel problems. Many researchers believe that tight fitting clothes may also be linked to endometriosis, cystitis and even stomach cancer. For men, tight pants are also thought to contribute to infertility and testicular cancer. And believe it or not, tight clothing could also prove damaging for your career. A recent study in the journal Psychology of Women found that women who dress in tightly-fitting clothing in the office are viewed as less competent by their co-workers.