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PT and the City

The Cost of Accessorizing

Published February 17, 2011 3:22 PM by Lisa West

I should probably be honest here - I am really, really bad at accessorizing. I worked at the Gap in high school and J. Crew in college and enjoyed watching customers hold belts up against a pair of pants or combine different pieces of jewelry to make the perfect ensemble. I like to wear t-shirts and can't remember the last time I put mascara on. I don't use a Blackberry and rarely carry a purse. I'm not very good at mixing different accessories together and really appreciate people who know how to do it.

It seems though that all this "accessorizing" has confirmed the need for physical therapists. Hello job security! Think of all the ways our bodies are physically impacted by simple, everyday items. There are countless articles and research papers about the numerous injuries for Blackberry phone users. Tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndromes caused by endless hours of typing on little keyboards that require weeks of rehab to regain pain-free motion. (Not to mention the work-life balance costs of a smart phone, as you are always available for e-mails and calls).

My mother is another example - her 27-pound purse (you could call it a suitcase) led to significant muscle imbalances at her right shoulder. She has spent hours upon hours at a manual therapy clinic and continues to adjust her carrying method to prevent further injury. It is difficult to see my mom lug around that huge bag; but on the other hand, it is nice to have my own version of Mary Poppins - she always has what I need in her purse!

What about children and backpacks? What happens when a developing musculoskeletal system is loaded with two to three textbooks every day? I remember walking home with piles of books and notes but was so sore from carrying the books that I didn't have the energy to study.

I think the important role physical therapists can play with all this stuff is by educating our patients, families and friends on the importance of moderating our use of hand-held devices and the physical impact our bags place on ourselves. Instead of loading up a backpack full of books, try distributing a few books in the bag and carrying a few in your arms. Reduce your heavy purse to just the essentials you will need for that day. With more education, more people will understand the risks of overuse.

1 comments

I also forgot to add: men who carry big wallets in their back pockets, only to develop SI joint dysfunction.  (Like George Kostanza in that episode of Seinfeld!)

Lisa West February 17, 2011 7:24 PM

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