The health risks of our stylish wardrobes

As London Fashion Week approaches, many of us will be eager to purchase the latest new season designs – however, it is advisable to consider the potential long and short-term health risks associated with the latest Fashion trends, says leading Orthopaedic Surgeon, Simon Moyes.

As a specialist sports injury Orthopaedic Surgeon, Simon Moyes is no stranger to the aches and pains of professional athletes that come with the game. However, both his London-based practices at 31 Old Broad Street and The Wellington Hospital, attracts injuries caused by a more glamorous game – the business of fashion.

From Plantar Fasciitis as a result of ill-fitting shoes, to nerve trauma caused by weighty and oversized handbags or even cervical pain from excessive ad heavy accessories, Mr Simon Moyes, outlines the four key fashion culprits and the potential dangers that many risk of everyday to follow trends.

Heavy necklaces

“We are seeing a growing popularity of heavy necklaces in modern fashion, with women opting to wear heavier jewellery around their necks. This, in combination with the use of heavier handbags can produce further protraction of the shoulder, curvature in the upper dorsal or thoracic spine and hyperextension of the lower cervical spine, which tends to force the head to thrust forwards. This can place a lot of strain on the base of the neck, causing lower cervical pain.

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“These two problems on top of poor posture from a desk-based working environment produce a range of conditions that will cause pain in the base of the neck in the upper dorsal spine and pain and impingement in both shoulders. All these things produce tightness, shortening of the upper chest muscles, which produce impingement in the shoulders. Physiotherapists, personal trainers and orthopaedic surgeons are seeing more and more patients with pain from these areas and it is very important to try and improve one’s posture and general bio mechanics by straightening up the cervical and thoracic spine – you can do this by stretching out the chest muscles, improving posture and by regularly stretching.”


“With the summer upon us thousands of people all over the UK will be swapping their shoes for flip flops and although they are cool and comfortable in the heat, they can lead to a common condition called plantar fasciitis. This is a very painful condition, which produces pain in the sole of the foot and in the heel mainly on the inside of the foot. The plantar fascia is a thick sheet of tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot supporting the deep layers of muscles and tendons in the foot.

“The lack of arch support and lack of cushioning combined with the way you walk in flip flops can predispose you to this condition. A particularly useful stretch for the plantar fascia is either using customised massage balls or you can also use tennis balls or golf balls. These are massaged directly into the painful areas of the plantar fascia and in the heel. These are combined with regular calf stretches to help relieve the symptoms although it will take a few weeks of such treatment to resolve matters.

“If you are a member of a gym which has a power plate you can combine usage of this with the aforementioned stretching regimes to have a more affective stretch of the plantar fascia and calf muscles and more acutely relieve symptoms. If the symptoms fail to respond to these simple stretching measures and alteration of footwear and activities then ultrasound guided steroid injections can be administered.”

High Heels

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“Many women prefer to wear high heels and are reliant on them for everyday use but repeatedly wearing heeled shoes can lead to Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles tendon is the long thin tendon that runs from the base of the calf muscles down to the heel bone. This can become extremely painful due to chronic shortening of the calf muscles by wearing repeatedly high heel shoes. The pain is localised over the tendon and may be associated with thickening and swelling of the tendon.

“The consequence of heeled shoes that women are most aware of is the increased risk of developing bunions and calluses, which are known to be aggravated by high heeled shoes, as the heel pushes the front of the foot into the shoe, crowding the toes. These bony growths aren’t just unsightly, but can lead to long-term swelling, inflammation and pain.

“The prolonged wearing of high heels can produce hyperextension of the toes by pressing them into rigid unnatural forms. The more stiletto shaped the heel, the worse it is likely to be. The base of the big toe becomes deviated outwards forming a bunion, and, the sesamoid bones, the bones beneath the big toe, get dislodged by the enormous pressures in that area. The good news is that as long as it is only temporary use you should not necessarily damage your foot. You are more likely to develop bunions if you have a family history of this and you are genetically predisposed to the condition as the wearing of such heels may accelerate bunion development. The solution is to avoid wearing heels for extended periods of time and use sensible shoes alongside your killer heels.”


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“Girls’ handbags, like men’s briefcases, can carry an enormous amount of material that can be surprisingly heavy. The way they are carried over the shoulder can predispose the development of chronic shoulder pain – namely inflammation and impingement of the rotator cuff. The heavy weight over the top of the shoulder tends to cause it to be protracted and the downward pressure on the cuff causes rubbing of the tendon. This causes shoulder pain, which is felt over the anterior and lateral deltoid. Patients may end up with pain at night, causing sleep disturbance, as well as pain using their arm at shoulder height.

“There may also be the development of crepitus or noises arising from the shoulder girdle as the arm is moved. To help avoid developing the condition, try to unload the heavier objects from the bag and change shoulders frequently to avoid pressure on one shoulder.”