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The Lady that Went to the Hospital for Wearing Skinny Jeans

Could working out in compression gear put you at risk?

You like squats. You like stylish jeans. But if you don’t like ending up in the ER having a doctor cut you out of your pants, you may want to consider this story

A 35-year old woman wearing tight, skinny jeans was hospitalized this weekend after spending the afternoon helping her friend move. The work required her to squat and lift up heavy boxes off the floor — in other words, pretty much the exact same thing you do on leg day. As her quads became swollen from the workout, her skinny jeans became so tight that they started restricting her blood flow. 

On her way home, her problems moved beyond the chafing and discomfort you would expect from tight pants. Her feet and ankles became numb from the disruption in her circulation, causing her to fall on the street. Unable to get back up, she laid there for hours until someone found her and got her to the hospital. 

Once she was there, doctors had to cut the jeans off her calves, which were so swollen that in the confinement of the jeans they were putting pressure on blood vessels and nerves. The woman then spent four days in the hospital. This got us wondering—could the same thing happen from too-tight compression gear? 

Compression gear works by putting a gentle squeeze on your legs to boost circulation. In theory, this lets your blood carry more oxygen to your hard-working muscles. It’s also thought to help with soreness and speed up your recovery time to let you get back to work faster. It’s similar to blood-flow restriction techniques that body-builders use to get gains.

Dr. Natalie Evans, MD, a vascular expert at Cleveland Clinic prescribes compression stockings to her patients with chronic vein diseases such as variscose veins. "Prescription compression stockings improve blood flow back to the heart, reduce the pressure in the veins, and decrease swelling, and generally improve aching and tired legs due to vein problems and swelling.”

While we doubt you'll end up at the hospital from wearing compression gear, be smart about it. “If you put on your compression gear and it hurts, it’s definitely too tight. I always tell people to use a little common sense. You should choose compression garments that are the appropriate size. In other words, you shouldn’t be trying to squeeze into something that’s two or three sizes too small.”

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