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Ways your fashion choices are hurting your health

We already know what to do to stay healthy; exercise, eat right, get enough sleep you name it. But the clothes you are wearing might be just as much to blame for your poor health. Here are your day-to-day apparel and accessories that may have a major influence on well-being, writes Betty Muindi

1. Wrong bra size

Many women would admit to wearing the wrong bra size at one time or another. Yet, wearing a bra that does not fit can lead to back pain, sore shoulders, a stiff neck or even headaches.

A bra can lead to rounded and hunched shoulders if they are too big and too small bras can create pressure around the shoulders, upper back and rib cage. And if you have a large bust that is poorly supported, your breasts will sit on the rib cage, put pressure on the diaphragm and cause breathing problems.

2. Tight underwear

Testicles are designed to hang outside of the body and increased testicular temperature is likely to do harm and impair sperm production, both in terms of their number and motility.

Narrow shoes. Photo/Courtesy

Tight-fitting underwear may increase testicular temperature.

Same as women, certain types of underwear, particularly thongs, have been associated with an increased risk of cystitis and vaginal infections due to transfer of bacteria from the rectum to the vagina, particularly when the garment is made from thin or tight fabric. Change to larger, cotton underwear and save thongs for special occasions.

3. High heels

When you put on high heels day-in and day-out, anatomically the ankle becomes raised and the calf muscles contract. As a result, the knees, hips and spine are affected.

Also, wearing heels regularly can cause problems such as toe deformity, ingrowing toenails, tendonitis, nerve pain and bone pain. Wearing heels can also cause hip pain and back pain. Round toe shoes are kinder to your toes than pointed toes, and wedges or platforms are better than stiletto heels.

4. Narrow shoes

Narrow shoes, despite giving your feet a dainty look can cause toe-crowding as well as skin irritation and callous and corn formation. They can cause a lot of discomfort and eventually may lead to misalignment of the toes, arthritis and even bone deformity. Buy shoes at the end of the day rather than the start. Feet swell during the day, so if you buy them later they will fit better from morning through to night.

5. Tight skinny jeans

Tight skinny jeans. Photo/Courtesy

Skinny jeans may be fashionable, but you could end up with numbness, tingling, burning and sometimes pain in the outer thigh known as meralgia parasthetica (MP). Men who wear tight skinny jeans, just as men who wear tight underwear are at risk of reduced sperm count, because of minimal aeration.

6. Flip-flops

Also known as slippers, flip-flops force you to clench the muscles in your feet the entire time you are wearing them so that they do not fall off. Apart from exposing your feet to bacteria, viral, and fungal infections, the force with which your heels hit the ground accentuates the heel-strike impact, which could end up causing pain.

They can also cause terrible blisters, permanently damage your toes, and you may end up with plantar fasciitis and tendonitis, which cause pain at the bottom of the foot and the back of the leg. Wear sandals instead, that have arch support or fit flops or flip flops with a strap to offer more support.

7. Headwear

Tight hats and headwear may cause headaches by the pressure they exert on the scalp and the muscles found surrounding the head. Undue pressure over muscles and skin wherever that may be can compromise the blood flow, which can then lead to pain.

If the headwear is particularly tight it may also lead to overheating of the scalp resulting again to discomfort and pain. This also includes tight helmets, headphones or headbands. The solution is to wear loose headgear if you must.

8. Jewellery

A skin condition called contact dermatitis is the result of an immune reaction to metals and other substances when they come into contact with the skin. The most common cause is the metal nickel, which is often used in costume jewellery and watches.

The use of large and heavy earrings often cause damage to earlobes, a problem that may require plastic surgery to be fixed. The same thing with necklaces. A heavy one can cause neck pain and even difficult-to-treat contractures.

9. Tight shirts and ties

Tight shirt collars and neckties can reduce blood circulation to the brain and increase intraocular pressure, a risk factor for glaucoma. Its primary cause is increased pressure in the eye, which in turn can be caused by obstructed blood flow to and from the head.

It can also cause headaches, blurred vision or tingling around the ears, various researches have shown. Tight ties on the other hand can decrease range of motion in the neck and increase muscle tension in the back and shoulders.

10. Body shapers

A tight girdle around the midsection can cause shortness of breath, muscle pain, and blood circulation problems leading to blood clots and varicose veins.

Pressure on the stomach, known as intragastric pressure or intra-abdominal pressure, can trigger acid reflux pushing stomach acid back up through the lower esophageal junction, where the esophagus and the stomach meet, causing heartburn, bloating, gas, and nerve compression.

Always choose the right size for you, and look for shape wear made with elastic fibre to provide an adequate balance of support, compression, and comfort.

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