Housework, handbags and heels cause back pain in young women

High heels, heavy handbags and housework could be behind young women suffering serious back pain while still in their 20s, suggests new research.

Back pain
Back pain
Back pain

The study by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) shows that women are getting pain in their back and necks by an average age of 28 - with many suffering at a much younger age.

For men, they have until 32 before suffering the same discomfort as back pain strikes.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed and a fifth (22 per cent) of the women reported suffering from back and neck pain every single day.

Rishi Loatey, Chiropractor and BCA spokesman, said: “Women may be experiencing back pain younger because of the shoes they wear, the bags they carry and because they are sleeping on unsupportive mattresses - plus the impact of housework/ DIY and carrying children around.”

Mr Loatey said the results of the extensive survey were surprising.

He said: “We did a survey with 2066 UK adults aged over 16 and there were a variety of reasons young women are reporting back pain.

“We were not expecting to see differences between men and women in the results, as we treat fairly equal numbers of men and women in our practices.”

But women were clearly suffering back pain younger.

Dr Loatey said: “Shoes can contribute to back problems.

“Some women are wearing heels for many hours which puts strain on the back.

“Another reason for women developing pain earlier could be that women are doing more housework and DIY. One third of the women we surveyed found work around the house a trigger for back problems, compared to 24 per cent of men.

“That is 50 per cent more, it is significant.”

He added: “Lifting and carrying are the most common cause of back pain.

“I always ask patients if they need to carry everything in their bags. They say ‘yes’ every time.

“Women are carrying handbags for a long period of time and they do not spread the weight across the body the way rucksacks do.

“Men wear rucksacks more, so that could be another contributing factor to the difference.”

Women could also be suffering because their mattresses are rubbish and cannot support the weight of their man.

Dr Loatey explained: “If mattresses are not changed regularly, because women are often smaller than their partners, they end up rolling onto their side or the middle of the bed - because their partner is heavier.

“When you sleep your spine should be in a neutral position, so this is causing problems.”

Lugging around young children may also be having an impact on young women’s spines.

Dr Loatey said: “And is it also because women have young children? Lifting children in and out of cars etc. can put strain on the back. We treat a lot of parents with young kids as it is often stressful for the back.”

Anyone who wants to prevent back pain should do a few simple straightening up exercises and just stop sitting down so much.

Dr Loatey said: “It is like brushing your teeth every day - you do simple exercises (available on the BCA website) and you are less likely to develop problems.

“And keep moving, try not to sit for too long. Get up from your desk every 20 minutes. I treat people who sit all the way to work on the Tube, sit all day at a desk, sit on the Tube on the way home and then sit in front of the TV at home.

“If you are going to sit down, sit on a hard chair, not a sofa and at least get up and make yourself a cup of tea every so often!”

A quarter (24 per cent) of women surveyed said they have suffered with back pain for more than 10 years.