Fashion victim: skinny jeans could be hurting your legs and feet

Squatting in tight jeans for prolonged periods can damage muscle and nerve fibres in the legs, reveals a case study

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2015, 7:41am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2015, 7:43am

It’s a fashion staple that forges a slinky silhouette. But could your skinny jeans be bad for your health?

One woman has fallen fashion victim to them. When she arrived at the hospital, she couldn’t move her ankles or toes properly and had lost feelings in her lower legs and feet. Her ankles had severe weakness, and her calves were so swollen that her skinny jeans had to be cut off her.

Doctors at the Royal Adelaide Hospital found that the 35-year-old woman – unnamed in their case study published online today in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry – had damaged muscle and nerve fibres in her lower legs as a result of prolonged compression while squatting, which her tight jeans had made worse.

She was put on an intravenous drip and after four days she could walk unaided again, and was discharged from hospital.

The previous day, she had been helping a relative move house, and had spent many hours squatting while emptying cupboards. She felt that her jeans were getting increasingly tight and uncomfortable as the day wore on.

Later that evening, she experienced numbness in her feet and found it difficult to walk, which caused her to trip and fall. Unable to get up, she spent several hours lying on the ground before she was found.

The doctors say the jeans had prompted the development of compartment syndrome – reduced blood supply to the leg muscles, causing swelling of the muscles and compression of the adjacent nerves.

Just as well skinny jeans are reportedly on its way out. Google recently reported in their first fashion trends report that the skinny jeans trend is “expected to decrease in demand every year”.

Analysing billions of searches to figure out what shoppers are interest in, they found that searches for the baggier “boyfriend jeans” style surged 89 per cent year-on-year and were conducted in higher volume than searches for skinny jeans.