Have you ever pulled your socks or bra off at the end of the day to find red marks and indentations where the garment rested all day? Have you felt the itchy feeling left behind as that area begins to re-saturate with blood? Have you ever wondered how tight and constrictive clothing might affect your health. The answers may surprise you!
It turns out that constrictive clothing helps create the ideal environment for yeast to grow and flourish, which leads to an increased risk of yeast infections, particularly in women during warmer months. Constrictive clothing can also increase intra-abdominal pressure leading to heartburn and acid reflux. Tight jeans, whether they’re fashionable or because you need to go up a size, can put pressure on nerves going into the legs causing numbness and tingling into the thighs. For men, wearing collars and ties too tight has been shown to decrease mental clarity, cognitive brain function, and increases pressure in the eye, which is a precursor to glaucoma.
A more subtle problem with constrictive clothing is that it can affect the flow of lymph in your body. Unlike your arteries and veins which carry blood, your lymphatic system is responsible for removing wastes, carrying nutrients, and is an essential part of your immune system. Unlike your circulatory system though, lymph is not circulated by the heart. It is circulated by slight muscle contractions and breathing. Wearing constrictive clothing such as bras that are too tight may interfere with the removal of toxins in the body which could increase your risk of cancer. It has been noted that women who live in cultures where bra wearing is uncommon are less likely to develop breast cancer. Now this doesn’t mean you should avoid wearing a bra, just make sure it is not too tight and doesn’t leave angry red lines. You could also take stress off your lymphatics by going a few hours a day or night not wearing a bra. The same goes for other clothing such as underwear and socks. As a chiropractor I routinely find that women have problems with their spine where their bras cross their backs. This may cause back pain there, but more importantly it can alter function of the nerves in that area of the spine which can affect optimal organ function and leave digestive challenges.
So, when you get home tonight inspect yourself for those angry red lines. If you have them or feel like your clothing may be too constrictive, loosen up! Your body may just thank you for it!
Dr. Brent Reiche