Tight clothing can restrict your freedom of movement. Breathing can level off if the chest cannot move physiologically, says physiotherapist Ute Merz. Possible consequences are concentration problems and headaches, as the brain no longer be optimally supplied with oxygen. (Representational Image/ By Arrangement)
Whether it’s skinny jeans or a tight-fitting blouse, the clothes that we like the most are unfortunately not always the most comfortable ones. However, does it actually harm the body to wear tight clothes regularly?
Until the 20th century, tight clothes in the Western world largely took the form of corsets. These infamous undergarments were popular because they made the waist appear smaller through tight lacing.
Women greatly compromised on their health for this body look because the pressure of corsets deformed the lungs, the stomach and intestines, sometimes even shifting them within the body.
However, the good news still is that with skinny jeans, shapewear and other tight clothing items, there is no need to fear such enormous health risks.
"The pressure caused by tight trousers is not relevant for the abdominal organs and digestion," says Ivo Grebe, a specialist in internal medicine based in Germany.
But can you breathe deeply enough in a tight outfit? Probably not. Tight clothing can still lead to massive discomfort — especially because of the pressure it exerts on the body. "In the chest, for example, wearing a bra that is too tight can cause pain that is mistakenly interpreted as heart pain or lung pain," Grebe says. Furthermore, tight clothing can restrict your freedom of movement. "Breathing can level off if the chest cannot move physiologically," says physiotherapist Ute Merz.
Possible consequences are concentration problems and headaches, as the brain no longer be optimally supplied with oxygen.
Tight trousers can also cause tension in the back. This is due to the fact that sitting upright is hardly possible with a pinched waistband. The result can be a hunched sitting posture, which in turn promotes back pain.
Tight clothes also can have undesirable side effects for another reason: The air cannot circulate, which leads to heat accumulating under the fabric. This makes it difficult for the sweat to evaporate through the skin and cool the body after a workout.
In the worst case, heat accumulation can also lead to the body overheating, which becomes noticeable through circulation problems.
That’s why experts say it’s important to take off any sweaty clothes straight after exercise, especially if they are tight-fitting.
The genital area can be affected too
The heat caused by tight clothing can affect the genital area as well, both in men and women. In order for testicles to function optimally and produce sperm, they need an environment that is slightly cooler than body temperature, which is why they are outside the body.
Heat build-up in tight trousers, however, can impair the production of sperm cells in the testicles.
At the same time, vaginal fungal infections can also be brought on by clothing that is too tight.
"Yeasts of the Candida family are present the vagina, but are normally kept in check by the low pH value there," explains gynaecologist Christian Albring. "But they multiply when the pH in the vagina rises, or even when the skin barrier is no longer intact."
Fungi also like tight clothing outside the intimate area. Dermatophytes, for example, are skin fungi that can always be found on the skin in small numbers. "They like to multiply in a moist and air-locked environment, especially in warm skin folds," says Albring.
The solution: Wear clothes that feel good
So what does that mean? Should you get rid of everything that is tight?
Not necessarily! If you regularly switch between figure-hugging and airy, maybe size-up with your next skinny jeans, and pay attention to signs from your body about how it feels in your clothes, then there should be no need to worry.
Nonetheless, the best choice are always clothes that make you feel comfortable. This should not only be because they look good in the mirror, but also because they feel good when you wear them.