TIGHT-FITTING OR LOOSE FITTING: WHICH CLOTHING OPTIONS ARE BEST?
Over the past several years, there has been an explosion in exercise clothing options. Exercise clothing has expanded beyond simple track suits or sweat pants, and now extends not only to the gym but also to everyday leisure wear. While fitness clothing has become universally fashionable, there exist many choices to suit fashion preferences, to flatter different body types, and to cater to a variety of activities and sports. These are not the only factors to consider when choosing what clothing you will don for your regular exercise routine. Your choices actually affect your health, and some types of clothing can cause or exacerbate a variety of health conditions.
Tight clothing in particular can be problematic to your health. Most modern exercise clothing is made with variety of breathable and stretchable fabrics which are more comfortable and provide more ease of movement than non-exercise wear such as denim. Even with the added stretch, however, your running tights or yoga pants could cause you problems if they are tight in specific areas and if you have certain pre-existing conditions. For instance, exercise pants that are too tight over the hips can cause problems at the hip joints and negatively affect the spine. A condition called meralgia paresthetica exists, where the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh can be damaged by diabetic or other neuropathy such as from an injury. Therefore, tight clothing over the joint may cause pain and tingling similar to the sensation of bee stings. This can be exacerbated by pressure caused from long periods of standing, intensive leg exercises, and issues with the joint such as hip replacement. Low riding pants can also cause nerve compression in the back if they are too tight, thus causing numbness and tingling.
Clothing that is too tight at the waist may contribute to immune system difficulties and circulation problems because they interrupt the flow of lymphatic fluids. Acid reflux can also result from wearing clothing that is too tight at the waist. Exercise pants that are tight in the groin can contribute to yeast infections in women and erectile and fertility problems in men. For these reasons, it is important to make sure you limit the time you wear pants that are tight in the groin, and be sure to remove them and shower immediately after your work out to prevent problems with excessive moisture.
It is especially prudent to avoid wearing control underwear under tight clothing while exercising. The increased pressure, especially in areas such as the stomach, can cause problems such as heartburn, inflammation, ulcers, and even contribute to bladder leakage. Pressure on the ribcage can also be problematic, preventing your diaphragm from full movement – a real no-no when oxygen needs are at their highest during exercise.
Clothing that is too loose, on the other hand, is more likely to cause physical harm from tripping or catching. Yoga pants that flare at the bottom can easily be caught under foot while exercising, or stepped on by a passer-by. In addition to flared pants or sleeves, loose drawstrings, long jewellery, and pony tails can all catch on exercise equipment. This is especially dangerous when exercising on equipment with handles and pulleys, which have the potential to cause injury.
While clothing that is too tight or too loose can both be risky, what is a person to do? Well, keep in mind any pre-existing conditions you have, such as joint injuries or replacements, previous nerve damage, or metabolic conditions, when you make your clothing choices. Clothing should not cling tightly or cause compression over these areas. Also, make sure that your clothing allows for full range of motion, but does not compress your diaphragm or waist. Despite this, clothing should still not be so loose that there are dangling or draping fabrics which can catch on something or cause a fall. Keep these tips in mind and you will be sure that your healthy workout routine is not compromised by the fashion choices you make!