Skinny Jeans Are More Hazardous to Your Health Than You Realize

woman squeezing into skinny jeans

Let's admit it. We wear super-tight skinny jeans because we CAN. It's the closest thing we get to a medal for working out every day or turning down that second piece of birthday cake. (Which FYI, we REALLY wanted.) Alas, it might be time to rethink this trend. Turns out, the form-fitting look may cause crazy-bad nerve damage in your legs.


Once upon a time, not so long ago, a 35-year-old woman just like you or me (except she lives in Australia) was walking through a park when she suddenly began having trouble walking. And even picking up her feet. She collapsed, and it was HOURS before she dragged herself to a spot where she could flag down a taxi.

At the hospital, neurologists found that this woman had significant nerve damage in her legs. It had nothing to do with her diet or the shoes she was wearing. Nope. The culprit behind her pain was her skinny jeans.

The previous day, the woman in question had been squatting down a lot, helping a family member move from their home. According to The Washington Post, doctors theorized that all that compression on her calves built up enough pressure to cause the damage.

Sounds far-fetched, but "Skinny Jeans Syndrome" is well-known to medical experts, who know it by its less-catchy scientific name, meralgia paresthetica. It's basically a compression of the nerve in the front/side part of the hip and thigh.

"It's commonly caused by tight and low-rise jeans but can also be seen in obesity and the third trimester of pregnancy," says Erik Korzen, DC, a chiropractic physician in Mokena, Illinois, who has seen such problems arise in his own patients.

More from The Stir: The Great Skinny Jean Debate

"Nerves do not respond well to compression," Korzen explains. "Think about how your arm feels when it 'falls asleep.' That's the same thing happening here."

Skinny jeans put external pressure on the ligament in your thigh, which in turn compresses the nerve that runs underneath it. Sitting (or squatting) makes it even worse. And then you get what's called ischemia, or reduced blood flow, says Korzen.

Worst-case scenario? According to Australian neurologists who treated our heroine in skinny jeans: permanent nerve damage, affecting the ability to walk, and even kidney damage.

So, how do you know if YOUR denim habit has already begun to wear away at your health? The symptoms are most often numbness and tingling (think: a pins-and-needles sensation) in the front and side of your thigh, says Korzen.

To stave off "Skinny Jeans Syndrome," limit wearing your skinnies to 1-2 days a week. Avoid excessive sitting or squatting when you're in them. It also helps to keep your hips and low back in good shape.

Happily, the Australian woman should recover just fine. But we're guessing that she's already shopping online for comfier pants.

Does this change how you think about wearing super skinny jeans?

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