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How bad is Shapewear for your health?

By Annie Stevens

How bad is Shapewear for your health?
What is our shapewear really doing to our insides?

The phrase “ominous tingling” is certain to strike fear into the hearts of all the Spanx wearers among us. That the multi-million dollar ‘shapewear’ industry is uncomfortable comes with the territory (no pain no gain and so on) but now health experts are saying that restrictive clothing might be doing more damage to our health than previously thought.

According to a big feature in the Los Angeles Times, restrictive clothing such as shapewear and compression tights used by athletes (and also by paunchy middle-aged men to your local café on the weekend) could be playing havoc on your nerves, digestive system, skin and internal organs. Reflux is one particularly nasty side effect. As Jay Kuemmerle, a gastroenterologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond told the LA Times,

“It’s really just plumbing. For someone who has reflux disease or is prone to reflux, wearing tight garments may exacerbate those symptoms.” As for that “ominous tingling” that’s a condition called meralgia paresthetica which causes tingling in the thighs when there is too much pressure on the groin.

However not all in the medical community agree on the implications of restrictive clothing, with one of the experts in the LA Times story stating that not everyone who indulges in a little lycra having problems, and the problems generally disappearing once the garment has been removed. Other studies have suggested that compression clothing can have benefits for athletes post race such as reducing soreness.

Even still, with many calling shapewear the ‘corsets’ or girdles of our era, it might be worth opting for wearing them in moderation.


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