Life Pro Tip: Keep Your Wallet Out Of Your Back Pocket To Avoid Back Pain
A big wallet can cause big back problems!
When it comes to your wallet, size matters. In fact, carrying a thick wallet in your back pocket can cause just as much trouble for your spine and pelvis as walking around with one shoe on and one shoe off.
It’s the go-to spot for stowing your stuff, but sitting on a George Costanza-style pile of credit cards, bills and loyalty cards (that probably haven’t been used in years) can put serious stress on your pelvis and sciatic nerve.
Low back and pelvic pain caused by sitting on a wallet is so common it even has nicknames in the medical field: hip-pocket syndrome, credit-carditis and wallet neuropathy.
What’s actually happening?
Let’s break down the chain reaction that occurs when you sit on your wallet.
The bulge raises one side of your pelvis, causing your lumbar spine – or low back – to bend laterally to the opposite side. Your thoracic spine – or mid-back – will then curve the opposing direction to counterbalance the lumbar spine and keep you upright.
What happens to your muscles? Say you keep your wallet in your right back pocket. The side-bending of the lower back, however minimal, will lead to the right quadratus lumborum, and all the muscles on your right side like the paraspinals, obliques, and transversus abdominis, to become shortened, making them actively insufficient.
Basically, this small shift decreases your muscle’s ability to fire and increases stress at your right sacroiliac joint. And it doesn’t stop there.
The left side of your pelvis does the complete opposite. Those same muscles are lengthened to the point that they become passively insufficient, which prevents proper co-contraction.
There’s a similar effect in muscles of the mid and upper back. The spinal stabilizers on the concave side of the thoracic curve are shortened and tight, while the spinal stabilizers on the convex side of the curve become over-stretched and quick to fatigue.
A major cause of piriformis syndrome
Not only is your pelvis going to be thrown out of whack, leading to muscle imbalance and joint dysfunction, but that wallet is probably pressing directly against your piriformis muscle and the sciatic nerve that runs through it. Studies have shown that this is a major cause of piriformis syndrome, which looks a lot like sciatica — sharp, severe, radiating pain from the lower back or buttock down the back of the leg and into the thigh, calf, and foot.
In other words, your overstuffed wallet could be the source of your lousy squat form, your slow run time, your tight back, your tight hamstrings, and your weak calves, hamstrings, and glutes.
What should you do about it?
Clear all the junk out of your wallet, then throw that wallet away. Get something slim that only lets you hold a few things at a time, like your ID and a couple cards – I’m a fan of distilunion slim wallets. It’ll force you to cut clutter, which you probably needed anyway.
Finally, the most important part: Stick that thing in your front pocket, and get your body back on track.
If you’re here because you’re suffering from low back pain, pelvic pain or piriformis syndrome caused by sitting on a wallet, then you’re in the right place. We’d love to help you get out of pain by getting started with chiropractic care. To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.