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This month, experts warned that ill-fitting bras could cause unexpected health issues - from indigestion to skin problems. But it's not just too-tight undies to watch out for - the swimwear, sandals and sexy dresses we squeeze ourselves into during the summer months can also play havoc with our health.

For example, did you know body-con dresses can restrict your breathing, or that thongs may bring on a bout of cystitis? In fact, a study by The British Osteopathic Association, BOA, found that millions of Brits were injured every year by their clothing, with one in two adults suffering aches, pains or injuries from handbags, bras or sunglasses!

Follow our top-to-toe guide to make sure your summer style isn't sabotaging your health

Bras and bikinis

THE DAMAGE: Research suggests that up to 80% of us wear a bra or bikini that doesn't fit properly.

Chiropractor Lorna Mills warns: "Women come into my clinic showing rounded shoulders, curves in the back and indigestion due to the diaphragm and lungs being restricted - all the signs of an ill-fitting bra."

Plus, seemingly unrelated conditions including skin rashes, breathing problems and tendonitis can be traced back to a too-tight bra. And push-up styles that squeeze breasts up and together can even cause indigestion.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Have your bra fitted properly at a department store and choose wide straps to spread the strain. Keep your Wonderbras for occasional evening wear. Pick bikinis with underwiring and shoulder straps rather than halternecks to reduce neck strain.


THE DAMAGE: Figures from the British Osteopathic Association show one fifth of us has endured pain from sunglasses causing pressure around our heads. It found that overly tight sunglasses could cause headaches and neck pain.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Buy from - or take your favourite sunnies to - a registered optician, who can fit them properly around your ears and nose, so they don't cause any discomfort.

Heavy bags

THE DAMAGE: The trend for supersized bags isn't showing any signs of abating, with the average ladies' bag and contents weighing a hefty 5-7lb during the summer months. But carrying a heavy handbag or beach tote can cause neck, back and shoulder problems.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Try easing the load whenever possible by only carrying essentials. "A rucksack is kinder to your back and great for holidays, as is a bag with a strap that goes across the body. Both distribute the weight more evenly, so you're less likely to suffer neck or shoulder strain," advises physiotherapist Chris Hirons from N10 Injury & Sports Therapy Clinic, London.

Floaty dresses

THE DAMAGE: The boho look is big again, but there's a good chance your chiffon-style top or frock is made from synthetic fabrics such as viscose or polyester, which can cause skin to sweat when the temperature rises, leading to body odour and skin irritation.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Check clothing tags and aim to buy breathable, natural fabrics. Cotton is your safest - and coolest - bet.

Pendants & bangles

THE DAMAGE: With cheap jewellery more readily available than ever, it's tempting to update your wardrobe with new trinkets each season. But cut-price jewellery is often made from metals containing nickel, a common allergen, and wearing it daily can cause a nickel allergy, leading to rashes, itching and redness.

SUMMER SOLUTION: The best way to avoid allergic reactions is to choose hypoallergenic jewellery made from metals such as stainless steel, titanium, gold or sterling silver. Or go for budget - and skin-friendly - summery alternatives to metal such as leather or beads.

Body-con dresses

THE DAMAGE: They may give you a sexy, hourglass figure, but wearing a restrictive body-con or bandage-style dress around your middle interferes with breathing, which is why corset-wearing Victorian women were always fainting!

Plus, a constant pushing on the stomach - known as intragastric pressure - can force stomach acid back up through the oesophagus, causing a nasty bout of heartburn.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Limit your body-con time to a few hours on a night out. Stick to looser shapes that don't restrict the body.

Skinny jeans and Capri pants

THE DAMAGE: A few years back, Canada's Dr Malvinder Parmar was one of the first experts to note that tight trousers can squeeze a sensory nerve under the hip bone, causing a tingling, burning sensation to shoot down the leg, something called meralgia paresthetica.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Opt for baggier, boyfriend-style jeans, or high-waisted trousers that don't squeeze the hips.

Magic pants

THE DAMAGE: Celebs might swear by their Spanx for flattening tums under tight skirts, but control pants can cut off your circulation.

Recent research has found these pants can cause back pain. Long-term use may also weaken the abdominal wall muscles, ultimately making the area even flabbier - the last thing you want.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Don't buy control pants that are too tight, and only wear them for a few hours in the evening at special dos - never all day.


THE DAMAGE: They're the best pants for avoiding a VPL under clothes, but thongs also help to spread bacteria from your bottom to the urethra and vaginal area, which can trigger thrush or cystitis.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Buy good quality cotton undies and ensure they're the correct size. If you're prone to infections, avoid thongs altogether

Highheeled sandals

THE DAMAGE: Because you're nearly on tiptoes, high-heeled sandals shorten your calf muscles, making legs ache. And the higher the heel, the greater the pressure on the ball of the foot, which can lead to blisters, corns and, in the long term, bunions and serious foot, knee and back pain.

One study found walking in 31/2in heels causes more bone-on-bone movement in the knees than walking barefoot, which researchers believe could explain why women have a higher incidence of osteoarthritis in the knees than men.

SUMMER SOLUTION: To keep feet problem free, chiropodists recommend alternating shoe type and heel height every day. Save high shoes for special occasions and go for platforms over thin, stiletto heels, as they place the feet at a less severe angle.


THE DAMAGE: They're a summer staple for many of us, but research has linked daily use of flip-flops to painful plantar fasciitis - an inflammation of the foot sole that causes severe heel pain - because they don't support the arch of the foot. Some experts also say wearing flip-flops without sunblock on your feet - a highly sensitive area that's frequently missed - could increase your risk of skin cancer.

SUMMER SOLUTION: Save them for the beach or swimming pool, and choose more supportive trainers for walking around in during the day - especially on hard surfaces. And when the sun's out, don't forget to rub some SPF on your tootsies too.


RISKS: Jessica Simpson, Kelly Brook, Caroline Flack and Jennifer Aniston

BIKINI: TOWIE's Lucy Mecklenburgh's is a perfect fit but some cause neck strain
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 27, 2013
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