Is Sitting With Your Wallet Bad For Your Spine?
Day to day life can be hectic. Running around and trying to find balance between work, family life, dropping the kids off, and whatever else keeps your days busy. Throughout these busy days we may incorporate certain habits that may feel convenient, but actually are harmful to our health. One of the best examples of this is filling our pockets with stuff—phones, keys, and more specifically putting our wallets in our back pockets—while we complete errands and go about our day.
In this week’s blog we are going to answer the question: is sitting with your wallet in your back pocket bad for your spine?
The short answer to this question is yes. Sitting with your wallet, or even your phone, in your back pocket is bad for your spine and posture. This is because the height of the wallet (or phone) in the pocket will cause the person to shift to one side while sitting. This shift causes stress and strain on the spine and surrounding tissues like nerves, discs, muscles and ligaments which may eventually lead to poor posture and radiating pain into the lower back, hip, legs and feet. Sitting like this long term may even cause pain in the neck and shoulder due to the chronic misalignments.
Anatomically speaking, when you sit with something in your back pocket it causes your pelvis, hip and spine to rise up towards the side were your wallet is located. A few minutes like this is okay, but due to the design of some spinal tissues, sitting like this for more than five minutes will result in deforming the spinal ligaments. As the ligaments deform, so does whatever bones are attached to them. It causes a domino affect up your spine which results in a pseudoscoliosis like shape of the spine.
Most times, we find convenience in packing as much as we can into our pockets that way we don’t have to hold anything or carry a bag with us; however it may be detrimental to your health because when we sit down with stuff in our back pockets, we actually shift our spines away from normal and distort our posture.
When your spine distorts to this posture, it creates an imbalance to the nervous system affecting how the brain and body can communicate with each other. It also causes muscles to strain and puts increased stresses on the joints of the affected side. Combined this all together and you are left with pain and abnormal posture which has been linked to poor health. Overtime this poor posture and chronic pain may weaken the rest of the spine causing the spine to distort even more which may exacerbate any health condition or pain already present. As we’ve discussed before, posture affects and moderates every physiologic function in the body from breathing to hormonal production, spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse, lung capacity and more. (Journal of Pain Management 1994).
While everyone is at risk for this, people who sit at a desk or drive long distances for work are most at risk. Think about office workers, truck drivers and/or bus drivers—they sit all day long and often suffer from back pain and leg pain. Perhaps they seek pain relief but the pain keeps coming back. What if the pain kept coming back because their wallet or phone tucked in the back pocket was the real problem? Relief will only be temporary unless the wallet is moved. If their posture is affected because of it, that will have to be addressed as well. So if you find yourself sitting often during work or on long drives be sure that you are emptying everything out of your pockets, even if you think it is thin enough to not cause a shift or imbalance.
The best way to prevent this from occurring is simple—create a conscious habit by avoiding having stuff in your back pockets while you sit. You can 1) empty your pockets before you sit, 2) consider getting a bag to carry your stuff around in or 3) move your wallet (or phone) to the front pocket. Another thing you can do is consider ditching a thick wallet and going for a more slim cardholder. This does not mean that you can still keep your wallet in your pocket during that road trip, it just means that you will have less bulkiness to carry around with you during your day.
In conclusion, filling up your back pockets with stuff while sitting is unhealthy for your spine. It leads to abnormal shifts in your spine and distorts your posture. Abnormal posture causes stress to the spinal cord, may cause recurring pain and overall has poor long term health outcomes.