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The Big Fat Truth About Skinny Jeans

By Sara Butler

Woman in Heels and Skinny Jeans

There are many things in life you should be afraid of. Natural disasters will really cramp your style, as will man-eating sharks. Being embarrassed while giving a presentation at work is no fun, and neither is being subjected to Justin Bieber’s musical stylings. But we know those are things we should have a healthy amount of fear and trepidation about in an effort to stay healthy and kicking. It’s always a surprise when you learn something that seems innocuous could be a danger to your health -- something like skinny jeans.

The British Chiropractic Association has come out with a warning against skinny jeans, fluffy hoodies, and other accessories because they can have a big impact on the health of your back and can be detrimental to your posture. It’s a hidden health impact you need to be aware of in order to save your spine!

Beyond the Handbag

You may have been lectured by your chiropractor a time or two about the dangers of carrying around your heavy handbag and the impact it can have on your spinal health, so it’s easy to see how other fashion choices can become a problem, too.

How is it that skinny jeans are bad for your bod when they look so good? The simple answer is that they restrict the free movement of your knees and hips to the point that it affects the way you hold your body when you stand and walk. In fact, any item of clothing that restricts movement can be the source of a problem, such as:

  • Asymmetrical hemlines
  • Oversized hoods or sleeves
  • Heavy jewelry

No one is saying you need to emulate the fashion choices of your 73-year-old grandmother here (though, those shoes are really sensible), you just need to be aware of how your clothing fits in order to avoid future issues with your back.

What Can You Do?

If you have a favorite designer or a pair of jeans that fit just right, you don’t have to give them up entirely in order to be healthy. Just as with anything else in life (fast food, alcohol, Justin Bieber music) you’re going to need to practice moderation. Plus, there are some really easy ways you can reduce the impact your fashion choices have on your spinal and overall health. You should:

  • Limit skinny jeans and high heels - Give your body a break and just try wearing them once a week or so.
  • Use a backpack - Even Louis Vuitton makes backpacks! If you need to carry around a few additional things instead of cramming them into your purse, make sure you distribute the weight over your whole body with a backpack, not just one side as a purse does.
  • Be kind to your body in a practical way - Look, it’s not either pajamas or skinny jeans, so try to look more fashionable in some loose fitting and breathable pants. And think about what you’re going to be doing when you dress for the day; if a lot of squatting or bending is involved, then you really do need to leave the skinny jeans at home.

The Dark Side

If you’re sitting here thinking that there’s no way you’re parting with your skinny jeans, you can’t say you weren’t warned. Aside from postural changes that aren’t healthy, wearing pants that are too tight can cause “compartment syndrome.” This syndrome is caused by increased pressure in a part of your body, such as your legs, and can result in swelling so bad that you have to get the pants cut off. It can result in more than just losing your favorite pair of pants to scissors; compartment syndrome can result in muscle and nerve damage in your limbs.

So you want to be cool and hip -- there are ways to do that without causing lasting damage to your body. While it may be strange to take fashion advice from your chiropractor, you should realize they’re simply trying to save you from making choices that can have a big impact on your health. Plus, unlike Justin Bieber music, you know good health will never go out of style!

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