Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Most of us either love or hate skinny jeans. I’m a big leggings and skinny jeans person, so I can’t get enough of them. That is why I was so shocked to read a medical study detailing the dangers of skinny jeans! Health reason why you should ditch your skinny jeans.
From nerve damage to heartburn, skinny jeans may be costing us. Before becoming a slave to fashion, check out some of these reasons to start rethinking your skinny jeans.
They could cause nerve damage
Let’s be honest. Your jeans would have to be pretty tight in order to cause nerve damage. However, it is possible. “I recommend avoiding skinny jeans for a couple of reasons,” Dr. Suzanne Fuchs, foot and ankle surgeon and sports medicine specialist, told me. “It is possible to develop compartment syndrome, which is reduced blood supply to leg muscles, causing swelling and nerve damage to the legs and calves. Also, skinny jeans can cause numbness, tingling, and nerve pain in the thighs and groin area after bending down in jeans that are too snug.”
If you love to rock skinny jeans, save them for fun dinners out and avoid exercising or bending down in them too much. But again, who is going to exercise in skinny jeans?
They could lead to heartburn
One of the easiest ways to cause heartburn is by wearing tight clothing. When you eat while wearing pants that are too tight, your body has trouble digesting. “You wouldn’t believe it, but tight clothing, especially around the waist, can cause an abnormal amount of pressure on your internal organs, Tracy Lockwood, celebrity registered dietitian, told me. “Therefore you can result in having heartburn and acid reflux from the unwarranted and elongated session of pressure coming from your clothes. Proceed with caution!”
Lockwood recommended ditching the skinny jeans, especially when eating. If it’s pizza night in your house, change into your stretchy pants and enjoy!
They’re bad for your self-image
One of the most dangerous aspects of skinny jeans has more to do with your mental health than your physical body. Forcing your bottom half to fit into super tight and restrictive clothing can lead to feelings of self-doubt and a morphed body image.
“As an eating disorder dietitian, the best reason I know to trash skinny jeans is because no matter how slender you are, they almost always give you a muffin top and cut into your waist when you sit down, both of which make you feel fat when you’re not,” Jessica Setnick, MS, RD told me. “That is bad for your self-esteem and body image and can lead to unnecessary food restrictions. Ironic that skinny jeans make you feel the exact opposite.”
If you’ve ever noticed yourself feeling bad about your body when wearing your skinny jeans, toss them. It’s just not worth it.
They could harm your muscles
As we go about our days, our muscles need room to expand and contract. If you plan on being on your feet most of the day, opt for a looser pair of pants. Skinny jeans could restrict your muscles so much that they actually cause some serious damage.
“If the jeans are too fitted, they almost act as compression stockings that are too tight and can lead to impaired circulation instead of optimal blood circulation,” Dr. Maham Majeed, general physician and consulting doctor at YourDoctors.Online, told me. “Compression stockings are usually recommended for patients with varicose veins in order to improve blood circulation. If worn for prolonged periods, ill-fitted jeans can even cause nerve and muscle damage, although rare it may be.”
You could lose feeling in your legs
Pay attention to how your legs feel when wearing skinny jeans. If you notice some numbness or tingling throughout the day, it’s time to change.
A study in the Journal of Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, and Psychiatry reported on a woman who wore skinny jeans while helping her friend move. This friend-of-the-year later went to her doctor because she was noticing some weakness and loss of sensation in her legs. Her doctors found that she had temporarily damaged the muscles and nerves in her calves. She actually had to be cut out of her jeans and spend a few days in the hospital! Seriously, how bad did her friend have to feel after that?
I would have thought that this should go without saying, but if you’re going to be spending the day moving heavy furniture, hang up the skinny jeans and grab your comfortable workout clothes. Protect your body first, then worry about how you look.
They could cause plenty of other health problems
In addition to muscle and nerve damage, skinny jeans have been linked to other health concerns below the belt. Men should be wary of them because of how they could affect sperm counts. Ladies should know that tight pants could lead to urinary tract infections.
“Moreover, they can also lead to urinary tract infections, testicular torsion, low sperm count, and other long-term issues if worn for an extended time duration,” explained Dr. Majeed. “However, this doesn’t imply that skinny jeans should be banned forever. If they are the right fit, not too tight and are worn for short periods on an occasional basis, it is unlikely that any damage will occur.”
They’ve already been done
Here’s one more reason to consider ditching your skinny jeans: they’ve been around for a while now. They don’t exactly scream trendy and current anymore, so why not try something new? “We’ve been rocking our skinnies for ages. They’re clearly here to stay as a great everyday basic,” Lindsay Narain, designer and founder of VAUGHAN, told me. “However, designers are doing some really great things with trousers for this spring and summer, and I’m very excited to try the trend.”
Narain recommended venturing out from the skinny trend and trying a classic wide-legged trouser. “The wide leg has come back in the form of a major statement trouser. They’re bold and chic and work from the office straight through to dinner,” said Narain. “Want to take the trend a bit further? Check out paper bag and peplum details at the waist for maximum impact.”
Next time you’re getting ready to go out with friends, think about changing up your usual skinny jeans and black sweater look. “There was a time when skinny jeans were the only game in town,” Narain told me. “Thankfully those days are long gone and silhouettes are becoming both more interesting and more relaxed.”
Should I ditch my skinnies?
All of these health risks sound pretty scary, but how likely are they? There is barely any research on the topic, and that is probably because skinny jeans are just fine for most people, at least normal people who don’t wear them while helping someone move!
New York Times fashion director Vanessa Friedman isn’t too worried about the incredibly rare health risks. “It’s no secret that some of the most viral stories are the most extreme or ridiculous, and fashion, perhaps more than most industries, is a world with extremes,” Friedman explained.
“It’s also a world that is accessible to most readers, or users — unlike, say, microbiology — so those extremes have more resonance than extremes of other industries,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of us, after all, probably wear jeans of one form or another. But it’s also worth remembering that between the poles is a very large percentage of garments and accessories that is neither damaging nor dangerous