|"Dangerous Clothing" by Allen Weiss, MD, MBA, President & CEO|
May 15, 2012 - Want to look “cut and trim?” Depend on exercise and good diet, and avoid shortcuts—they can have adverse effects on your body and overall health.
Common bad shortcuts are: dangerously high heels, too tight clothes such as belts, jeans, control-top pantyhose, body shapers, tight shirt collars and ties, excessively heavy pocketbooks, and the like. These can cause your tendons and muscles to tighten, pinch nerves, and cause low back or shoulder pain, interfere with normal digestion, and even cause an increase in eye pressure leading to glaucoma.
As has been said in the past, “There is no original sin—everything has been done before.” On the subject of clothes and shoes, consider the corsets worn in past centuries that had dire effects on the abdominal organs and respiratory function. Even worse, imagine having ones feet bound so they would look small and dainty. Obviously, looking back without the sensitivity to the era when these fashions were in vogue is unfair. Nonetheless, the point is that as “slaves” to fashion, we can do some bad things to bodies.
Super high heels are particularly fashionable these days, yet one of the most harmful accessories a woman can wear. Although they make the “leg line” attractive, these shoes cause the Achilles tendons to tighten and can shorten the calve muscles. Ultimately, a woman’s stride becomes shorter and other muscles and tendons need to compensate. The risk of injury increases when a woman switches to flats or sneakers and begins to exercise vigorously. A study was done in women with an average age of 25 some of whom wore high heels and others who did not. Comparing the two groups confirmed these observations.
Tight apparel ranks a close second as “dangerous clothing.” Most everyone wants to appear thin and svelte. However, a common but under-recognized cause of upper lateral leg pain and numbness is pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve caused by tight clothing around the pelvis. Most people think of women with tight belts or controlling under garments as being at risk for this condition, but policemen with heavy gun belts and ballerinas with too-tight tutus have the same mechanism of nerve pinching.
Middle age or older men wearing too tight jeans can experience leg pain, numbness and/or abdominal discomfort, distention, heartburn, and belching after eating a big meal. Normally the stomach expands after eating which is most obvious in pre-school children whose bellies pop up for an hour or two after eating.
Spandex and body tamers/shapers are equally noxious and can also affect the respiratory system negatively by preventing lung expansion.
Men’s shirt sizes are usually based on collar size. However, 67% of men buy shirts that are smaller than their necks, according to a 1993 Cornell study. Even if the shirt is the right size when new, after a few washes the material shrinks and can cause persistent pressure build up in the brain, eye and head.
Underwear makes a difference. Men who are concerned about fertility should wear boxer shorts as the temperature in the testes will be lower, which is healthier. Lingerie experts estimate 75% of women don’t wear the right size bra—either too big, causing lack of support, or too small which can pinch the flesh.
It is important to be comfortable, safe, and well dressed. Going to extremes is both harmful and stupid. Don’t acquiesce to peer-pressure. Stay smart and take care of your body; you only have one and it needs to be respected.
Past Health Advice Articles
Dr. Allen Weiss is CEO & President of the NCH Healthcare System. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Geriatrics, and was in private practice in Naples, Florida from 1977 - 2000. Dr. Weiss is active in a variety of professional organizations and boards, and has been published in numerous medical journals, including the American Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.