Most men carry wallets. There’s the bi-fold, tri-fold, nylon, leather, ones you put pictures in, ones for organizing credit cards and the list goes on. Like most men, I used to put my wallet in my back pocket. It was actually my back left pocket but that was just my preference. Anyways, what I’m writing this post about is to get the awareness out there to people who carry their wallets in their back pockets to change things around a bit. Gone are the days for me of putting my wallet in my back pocket. I am proud to proclaim that I have been free of the back pocket wallet bulge for about 8 years now. “Where,” you might ask, “do you put your wallet now?” Well, keep reading on and you’ll soon discover what has changed my life!
The fact of the matter is that if you wear your wallet in your rear pocket, one cheek is higher than the other and in time, the pelvis ends up in an offset position. This is bad news but it doesn’t end there. As a result of the bulge in your rear pocket, the spinal column becomes uneven. This is just a chain reaction folks! After the misaligned spine comes slouching shoulders (Adams, 2012).
According to Dr. Neil Baum, thick wallets or any other kind of wallet can hurt your lower back if you sit on it for long periods. Although most of the worries have been taken too far, a wallet in your rear pocket can definitely cause some lasting health problems. This problem was first popularized in 1966 by the New England Journal of Medicine when they termed a condition of too many credit cards in one’s wallet as causing “credit carditis”.
This term never really went anywhere but doctors still refer to the symptoms as increasing in number. The initial beginnings of the condition are slight. Many of the signs and symptoms are caused by something pressing against the piriformis muscle in the buttocks. This muscle is connected to the sciatic nerve that continues down the length of the leg.
The medical term for this is called Sciatica or sciatic neuritis. There are special conditions of sciatica when it concerns the piriformis muscle. This condition is also known as piriformis syndrome. It has commonly been dubbed as “wallet sciatica”. Wearing the wallet in the rear pocket will apply pressure to the butt muscles and sciatic nerve when the wallets owner sits down (Kirschner, Foye & Cole, 2009).
Over a period of time, anyone can experience pulsating pain in their lumbar (lower back) to the area around their hip. Dr. Gerard P. Varlotta from the New York University School of Medicine had to tell a patient to remove 20 years of clutter from his wallet to make it thinner. In fact, wallets are not the only guilty bulges in our back pockets. Other large items can cause similar damage like handkerchiefs (people still use those things?) and golf balls (REALLY? Who would put one of those in their back pockets?) (O’Connor, A., 2006)
So as with my other posts, when presented with a problem, there’s always a solution. The best option for those 95% of men with rear pocket protuberance is to place the wallet in your front pocket! Nowadays, I carry my wallet, cellphone, iPod, keys and a pen when I’m out and about. I’ve found that when I purchased cargo shorts or carpenter pants, I have more storage options when it comes to more pockets. So let’s change that statistic from 95% to 0% shall we?
Adams, C. (2012) Don’t sit on your wallet ergonomic tips for your posture. About.com, Retrieved
O’Connor, A. (2006). The claim: Keeping a wallet in your back pocket can cause sciatica. The
New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/17/health/17real.html?_r=2
Kirschner, J., Foye, P., Cole, J. (2009). “Piriformis syndrome, diagnosis and treatment”. Muscle
& Nerve 40 (1): 10–18. doi:10.1002/mus.21318.PMID 19466717