Okay, I think it’s fair to say that at some point in time, many of us have been the woman in this picture! We’re lying on a bed, hoping that gravity will force our tummies in enough to be able to button or zip those tight jeans or pants, right? Today’s fashion trend that clothes squeeze and sculpture is a billion dollar industry. We see it from in our everyday clothing to our sportswear. We’re supposed to stuff ourselves into compression body shapers to tuck us in and hide our seams. Every time I go in to buy new pants, the clerks always tell me I need to go down another size or two. Are they comfy? NO! Are they healthy? Doctors say, “No!” especially when compression clothing is worn for prolonged periods of time.
The Health Hazards of Tight Pants and Body Shapers
A good friend of mine has recently gone in for several tests due to excruciating abdominal pain. The culprit? Her tight pants. Let me share some of my research on the health risks of wearing tight pants.
Many of us transition from squeezing into our morning fashion yoga or workout wear (many of them skin hugging) to figure flattering tight pants/jeans to throwing on our body shapers to hide seams and those muffin tops for an evening out.
Without a “breather,” here are some of the potential health risks, ladies!
According to Dr. Nicholas Morrissey, a vascular surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital “there is a sensory nerve that comes from your pelvis that provides sensation to parts of your thought. People who wear skinny jeans sometimes say they feel a numbness doing down their leg because of the constriction. He adds that the condition itself isn’t dangerous but if this happens repeatedly there can be permanent damage.”
A neurologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Dr. John Michael Li, notes that “tight pants syndrome” is marked by abdominal discomfort, heartburn and belching from wearing those skin-tight pants. Normally the pants are 3” too small for the person’s waist.”
And Dr. Orly Avitzur, medical adviser to Consumer Reports notes “when there is pressure on the abdomen, food doesn’t digest.” This can present an even bigger risk to people who have reflux esophagitis and chronic heartburn. Tight clothing just makes these issues worse.
Research also shows that wearing tight pants, compression tops and tight body shapers have been shown to cause other health problems including:
- Compressed stomach, intestine and colon
- Suppressed urge to use the bathroom, causing possible stress incontinence
- Decreased circulation
Development of blood clots
- Poor digestion
- Hyperventilation and panic attacks (due to tightness and shallow breathing)
- Increased bladder, yeast and urinary tract infections (due to overheating and trapping of moisture and bacteria in that area)
- Decreased lung function (when body shapers have high rises)
- Increased varicose veins for those genetically prone
- Can lead to “lymph congestion” or fat ankles
- Limited mobility of hip joints, causing stretching of joints
- Reduced lymph flow from the pelvis
- Compressed bowels, exacerbating those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Decreased immune system function
- Low sperm count and infertility for men
On a final note, I’d like to share a funny story. A number of years ago a group of friends and I were touting the miracles of the body shaper industry. (Our mothers and grandmothers called them “girdles.”) Anyway, a friend shared that she had stuffed herself into one for a special evening out. After a fun evening out her husband walks into the bedroom as she’s “exploding like a sausage in a tight casing” out of her body shaper. We all got a good laugh out of that but lesson learned: Loved ones must remain out of the dressing and viewing area during those settling “into” and “out of” moments.
Other words I’ve heard associated with getting into these tight clothes: Shoehorn, stuff, jam, cram, squeeze, squash, wedge, shove, push, pull, tuck… We laugh! However…
I’m not saying many of us don’t “feel” a little shapelier in these types of clothes but let’s be mindful of our overall health. Does everything need to be tight? Is it too tight? We all know when it’s too much. There can be a hefty health price tag if we remain committed to the “image.” We all need to give our muffin tops a rest now and then and don’t we deserve to be comfortable? Can we “slide” instead of “squeeze?” I say YES!
Looser and Loving it!
CBS News – Michelle Castillo, July 2014
The Ergononmenon – May 2017
Healthsite – Poorva Chavan – January 2015
LA Times Health – Emily Sohn, April 2015
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