Fashion plays a big part in our lives and trends coming out of this week’s London Fashion Week indicate the new season’s all about high heels, big bags, cool accessories and eye-catching underwear. But have you thought about how you can use the latest designs to become fashionably healthy?
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has produced a unique fashion workout designed to help people get the most out of this season’s must have trends. The guide will leave you feeling catwalk confident and super-model fit.
Chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo says: ‘Physios regularly treat people who have suffered from the hazards of high heels and giant designer handbags but there are ways you can turn the danger on its head and make these expensive items even more desirable and use them to improve your health.’
The CSP’s mini-fashion workout incorporates heels, bags, belts, underwear and the shape of fashion to help wearers exercise the upper and lower body.
THE LOWER BODY WORKOUT
It is the year of the super-stiletto, with heels and platforms getting eye-wateringly high. Regular wear of high heels can shorten the calf muscles and throw your whole body out of alignment. Uneven surfaces can also be hazardous for killer-heel enthusiasts. The key to great legs and feet – and to avoid bunions and blisters, or pain in your ankles, knees and legs – is variation and moderation. Walking in a variety of shoes allows your sedentary body to move through its full range of movement.
Opt for a wider, chunkier heel for more stability
Show-off your varied shoe wardrobe of low, medium and high heels, and trainers
Make the most of that big designer bag: carry your killer stilettos while you walk briskly or run around in your flat shoes or trainers
In your bare feet you can exercise your calf muscles and take them through their full range of movement. Standing safely on the edge a bottom step drop your heels as far as they can comfortably go so that you are feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. Hold for 10 seconds then roll on to your tiptoes. Repeat this five times
Underwear forms the foundation to everything we wear and choosing the right style for your body shape will make your clothes look and feel better. The key to great underwear is to make it functional; to ensure proper support a professional bra fitting is essential. Wearing the wrong bra size not only looks bad but also puts you at risk of neck and shoulder pain, pinched nerve in the neck and sagging breasts.
In your well-fitted bra ensure your nipples are at a 90-degree angle to your spine – any other angle is a good indicator that your bra may not be the right size, or that you’re slouching or over-correcting which can have implications for your posture.
Avoid using ‘quick fix’ garments such as support pants as a way to shrink or shape your bum. The best way to achieve the smooth and firm look is exercise.
Go for a brisk walk, taking big strides to work your buttock muscles
Standing on your left leg, holding your tummy in, lift your right leg straight back 10 times, without resting. Swap legs. Do the same, lifting your right leg straight out to the side. Swap legs
Standing tall, squeeze your buttock muscles as hard as possible, hold 10 for seconds and do this 10 times.
THE UPPER BODY WORKOUT
One of the biggest fashion trends is one-handled wraparound backpacks or oversized handbags, with some reaching nearly two feet in length. Bag-related injuries are on the increase and symptoms can range from headaches, postural problems, and neck and shoulder pain. A safe weight limit for handbags is to carry no more than a couple of pounds and backpack users shouldn’t carry more than 10 per cent of their body weight but as more of us adopt a ‘prêt-a-porter’ lifestyle it is common for bags to exceed these limits.
Take advantage of the big bag trend and improve muscle tone with the ‘handbag workout’:
Opt for a wider strap to spread the load. String or chain handles can cause uneven distribution of weight and can cause discomfort and/or injury
At a bus stop or in a queue stand tall and use the weight of your bag for some bicep curls
Walking with extra weight will burn calories and improve muscle tone. While walking tall, hold your tummy muscles in and keep your shoulders back and down. It is important that you vary how you carry your bag, switch sides regularly and use your hands and shoulders. Wrap-around backpacks are good in that they keep the weight of a bag close to your body reducing the risk of injury.
For many, hectic lifestyles can lead to stress, muscle tension and shallow breathing. Belts are a fantastic fashion accessory for improving and optimising your breathing. If worn cleverly, they can act as an objective marker to see how well you are actually breathing, which will benefit many bodily functions.
Breathing in through your nose, bring the air into your tummy and let it push against your belt. Hold for five seconds and release. Do this three times every hour. This will promote deeper breathing, help you take on more oxygen and facilitates the elimination of carbon dioxide
Belts are also a good guide to how well your abdominal muscles are holding up through the day. If you feel your midriff beginning to bulge above and below the belt, counter the sagging by standing or sitting tall, lengthening your spine and draw your belly button towards your spine without holding your breath.
The Shape of Fashion
The recent floaty, ‘empire line’ trend was a great excuse to hide behind what you wear and encouraged the rise of a sloppy, slouching culture. With the arrival of a new tailored look, it is a great incentive to tone up and get fit.
Wearing fitted and tailored garments can encourage you to get your tummy into shape. Start by pulling in your abdominal muscles, release by 70 per cent and hold this 30 per cent contraction for as long as possible. Repeat this exercise hourly
Lengthen your spine by standing/sitting tall and straight. A great marker to achieve this is to increase the length between your belly button and your chest. This can improve your overall posture and make you look longer and leaner.
Notes to editors
Sammy Margo is a chartered physiotherapist and a spokesperson for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. She has spent many years using a practical hands-on approach to the management of her patients/clients and is actively involved in the media.
1. For more information on these tips, or for further advice on how to get healthy the easy way, contact the CSP press office on 020 7306 6616 / 6628 / 6163. Out of hours call Becky Darke on 07900 160 349 or Prabh Salaman 07795 564 240.
2. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK’s 49,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. For previous releases visit http://www.csp.org.uk/
3. NHS referrals to physiotherapy can be gained through your GP, or you can contact your local NHS physiotherapy department to find out how you can get an appointment. Alternatively, find a private physiotherapist near you at www.physio2u.org.uk
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