Clothing and Shoes
From Health Facts
In today’s world clothing and shoes have become a commodity that emanates individuality and personal style. they have been taken away from their original purpose and moved towards a status of social class and gender identification. Clothing and shoes do however serve a large purpose in health promotion. Ideally, the clothing one wears match the activity, job and environment that they are in.
Ensure ease of movement: Wearing the clothing and shoes that match the activity you’re engaged in allows the body to move freely. With free movement all joints in the body move effectively which is essential to proper functioning. It also allows for proper cellular exchange of nutrients and optimal lymphatic and circulatory movement. Lack of internal movement leads to stagnation in the body which overtime leads to pain and discomfort.
- Hygienic barrier: Clothing and shoes provide a hygienic barrier for the body. As organisms and toxins can enter the body via the skin, having a physical barrier protects the body. Different hygienic barriers created by clothes and shoes are needed for various environments. For example, if working as a construction worker it is essential to wear steel toed shoes and protective clothing to shield the body from toxins and occupational hazards.
- Protection from the elements: Wind, sun, rain, snow and insects are shielded from the body by the barrier that clothes and shoes provide. Wearing appropriate, weather conscious clothing and shoes helps strengthen the body and protect it from it from the elements and the external environment.
- Societal norm: The use of clothes and shoes has become a societal norm. It is socially unacceptable to not wear clothes and shoes in public places such as restaurants. There are also societal norms on what to wear to which occasion.
- Breathing Clothing and shoes impact breathing. Loose, comfortable fitting clothing allows for proper lung expansion. If lung expansion is restricted you will not be able to take a full breath. High waisted belts, tight brassieres and restricting tops all limit thorax movement and affect breathing. Shoes are also important for proper breathing capacity. High heels create stiffening within the knee which results in restricted pelvic function and decreased breathing capacity. Ensuring the natural arch of the foot is adequately supported and the feet are not limited ensures optimal breathing.
- Digestion: Wearing lose fitting, comfortable clothing has a positive impact on digestive function. The pressure on the skin created by tight fitting clothing has been shown to decrease the transit time of stool throughout the digestive tract as well as decrease the amount of feces excreted. In addition to influencing transit time in the gut, tight fitting clothing has been shown to inhibit absorption of dietary carbohydrates.
- Posture: Clothing and shoes play a large role in maintaining a neutral posture. Clothing influences the body’s alignment by somatosensory feedback. Wearing loose fitting, comfortable clothing ensures that the body does not receive too much somatosensory feedback. Shoes directly impact posture. The feet are the body’s base of support and if incorrectly aligned the entire body will be out of balance. Ensuring adequate arch support that complements the foot’s natural shape and size is essential to maintain a balanced posture.
- Proper growth and development: Proper growth and development in children is largely dependent on the right fitting clothes and shoes. Children’s feet are very flexible and soft. The wrong footwear easily causes deformities which can be present into adulthood. Before an infant begins to walk they should wear loose fitting booties that are simply designed to keep their feet warm. When a child begins to walk it is important that they do this barefooted or, if needed, in light socks to keep their feet warm. Allowing children to learn to walk barefooted is important for proper development of the musculature of the foot and for development of the grasping action of the toes. When walking outdoors light weight, flexible footwear made of natural materials continues to support proper growth and development. As the child begins to grow it is important to check their foot size every few month and adjust footwear to the growing foot. Clothing also influences growth and development. If a child is restricted from certain movements due to tight and restricted clothing development will be hindered. Gross motor development occurs as a child ages and it is important a child be able to move freely to develop fully. Ensuring a loose, comfortable fit that allows for ease of movement is essential for proper growth and development.
There are several factors that affect clothing and shoes. Below is a list of the most common factors:
- Lifestyle influences the clothing and shoes an individual chooses to wear. If an individual is more sedentary they may be less likely wear athletic clothing and shoes and choose a different dress style. Lifestyle largely dictates the choice of clothing and shoes an individual wears.
- Job: An individual’s job has a large impact on the type of clothing they wear to work. Different work environment largely influence clothing and shoe choice.
- Culture: In certain cultures and communities the choice of clothing and shoes is dependent on individual style and self-expression, whereas in certain cultures it is customary to wear specific attire.
- Seasons: Making sure to match clothing and shoes to the season present is an important consideration.
- Fabric: The type of fabric used to make clothing is an important factor to consider when buying clothes. Most fabrics are heavily sprayed and are treated with chemicals which can be absorbed by the skin or inhaled by the lungs and which are hazardous to health. Buying clothes made of organic material ensures that the fabric is free of chemical. Organic fabrics are also much more breathable which allows the body and skin to cool itself more effectively and helps to prevent skin irritations. Consider buying natural, organic fabrics whenever possible to decrease chemical exposure as well as allow the skin to breathe.
- Discomfort in Movement: If wearing tight restricting clothing one’s ability to move freely will be hindered. High heel shoes change the body’s centre of gravity making it difficult to take large steps interfering with movement. Poor shoes choice with limited support also lead to pain and discomfort upon movement.
- Musculoskeletal Injuries: Several musculoskeletal injuries result due to poor clothing and shoe choices. Below is a list of the most common:
- Joint pain: Adequate shoe support is necessary to decrease the incidence of knee pain and prevent the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee. The use of custom orthotics is a common prescription for individuals who suffer knee pain, demonstrating decrease in pain over a short period of time. Osteoarthritis of the knee can be effectively treated with proper shoe support which redistributes weight through the knee joint. Insertion of a lateral wedge in shoes has been shown to decrease pain associated with osteoarthritis. The use of a lateral wedge insert for shoes has also been shown to decrease osteoarthritis disease progression.
- Clothing and shoe choice have a large impact on posture. High heel shoes result in significant postural changes. High heels change the body’s centre of gravity resulting in a decrease in lumbar lordosis, which overtime could result in an increase in lumbar pain. Low waisted jeans results in altered posture compared to regular waisted jeans. Hipster jeans result in a greater anterior tilt of the pelvis versus regular jeans, which creates significant postural dysfunction.
- Foot pain: Results from incorrectly sized shoes and poor shoe choices. Below is a list of the most common foot complaints and which factors influences their development and progression:
- Bunions: or hallux valgus refers to the lateral deviation of the first toe at the toe joint (metatarsalphalangeal joint). Although there is a small genetic component which leads to the development of a bunion, the primary extrinsic factor is footwear. Primarily narrow footwear which restricts the toes is responsible for the development of a bunion.
- Plantar Fasciitis: is inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot which supports the arch. If the connective tissue, or fascia, becomes inflamed due to poor arch support a heel spur can develop. In order to prevent the development of a heel spur, it is important to buy footwear which adequately supports the medial longitondial arch of the foot so that the fascia does not pull on the bone resulting in a bony overgrowth which causes pain and discomfort.
- Heel spurs: Are a bony protrusion on the calcaneus, or heel bone. They often result due to plantar fasciitis, although not always.
- Calluses and Blisters: result due to repetitive friction, pressure and rubbing on the feet. Blisters develop if the repetitive friction is forceful and too frequent whereas a callus develops by lighter repetitive friction. A callus is a thickening of the skin of the foot which is a protective mechanism of the body. If shoes are too large there is a tendency for the foot to move around which creates unnecessary rubbing and friction. Conversely, shoes that are too small also create unnecessary pressure and friction resulting in blisters and calluses. Buying shoes that compliment the natural shape of the foot and that are the right size prevents the development of blister and calluses.
- Skin Conditions: The breathability of fabrics is important to consider for the prevention of skin conditions.
- Rough fabric can irritate the skin leading to intolerance of the fabric or keratosis follicularis.
- Certain textiles and fabrics interact with immune cells of the skin and cause contact dermatitis.
- Breathability of fabrics allows the body to regulate its temperature and release moisture. Clothing that does not breathe such as, polyester, nylon, acrylic and rayon increase the temperature of the skin and prevent moisture from escaping which increases the likelihood of bacterial growth and allergic reaction.
- Natural organic fabrics are important for the prevention of skin conditions.
- Panty hose and tight jeans increase the risk of yeast infections. The choice of underwear is also an important consideration to avoid yeast infections. Nylon fabric underwear increases the risk of yeast infections. Thong underwear is also a contributing factor. The increase in yeast infections is due to the fact that tight, non-breathable clothing limits air circulation producing a warm moist environment which is ideal for the growth of yeast. In order to prevent the development of yeast infections it is important to wear loose fitting, natural fabric underwear and clothing.
- Chronic Illness: Several chronic illnesses develop due to poor fitting clothing. Some of the most common conditions are outlined below:
- Tumors and cysts: [Dehydration]] and lack of movement creates stagnation which overtime can lead to the development of tumors or cysts. Tight fitting clothing restricts internal movement which leads to stagnation.
- Cancer: Can develop due to poor lympathic drainage within the body. The lymph system is designed to protect the body by removing harmful waste and toxins. Poor fitting clothing restricts lymphatic movement inhibiting the body’ ability to remove waste. Wearing a bra for longer than 12 hours a day has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. It is not the bra itself that causes cancer but the decrease in lymphatic movement causing toxins to accumulate in the breasts leading to an increased rate of cancer among women who wear bras. In order to decrease the incidence of breast cancer, minimize the time you spend wearing a bra and ensure that your brassiere is not too tight, made of breathable material, free of an underwire. Be sure to remove your bra or any other restrictive clothing before going to bed.
Overtime numerous store and clothing lines have emerged that blend fashion with health and have provided individuals with a large selection of health promoting, fashion forward clothing. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for clothes and shoes:
- Go shoe shopping in the afternoon or evening as feet are larger at the end of the day.
- Have your feet measured everytime you buy new shoes as shoe size does change throughout a lifetime.
- If your feet are not equal in size, make sure to fit your shoes to the larger foot.
- Shoes should fit comfortably around your heel and not move up and down too much when walking.
- Make sure that there is around ½” in front of your longest toe when standing.
- Make sure the largest part of your foot fits comfortably in widest part of the shoe.
- The top of the shoe should be made of a soft material that moulds to the shape of you foot.
- Buy shoes that compliment your foot shape.
- Shoes should fit comfortably in the store, do not buy shoes that are tight and expect to stretch them out.
- Clothing should be made of natural, breathable fabrics such as bamboo, organic cotton, linen, wool, silk or hemp.
- Buy clothes that are comfortable and allow you to move freely.
- Avoid tight, restricting clothing and accessories.
- Clothing should never leave an imprint on the skin, this is a sign it is too tight and restricting.
- If you cannot buy natural organic fabrics, be sure to wash clothes thoroughly before wearing to remove any chemical residue. – not all residue is removed with washing.
- Wash clothing in natural detergent that is chemical and fragrance free.