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Warning: Exercise Garments May Not Be Safe

Last spring I taught an exercise class for getting in shape safely and preventing injury. The class went well but ironically I ended up injuring my shoulder and upper back from putting on and taking off my excess hiding, form enhancing workout top. Prior to the class I felt compelled to purchase the perfect looking workout outfit to guarantee my role model status. The shirt, which may or may not have improved my contours, was extremely difficult to get in and out of. Despite my discomfort I continued wearing the shirt each time I taught. And each time I put on and took off the shirt I knew, but didn’t want to admit, the discomfort could lead to something serious. As a big advocate of injury prevention I chose to ignore all of the signs that my shirt was hazardous. My vanity over powered my pain and now I regret it. Had I worn something more efficient and maybe a little less flattering I would not have injured both my shoulder and upper back.

Could using efficient alignment and body mechanics while getting dressed and undressed have prevented this mishap? Unfortunately, in this case, the answer is no. It was impossible to use efficient alignment and body mechanics. In order to get this thing on and take it off I needed to contort my body in ways that made it difficult to maintain alignment and core stability. I have provided manual physical therapy to people of all sizes and shapes, exercised for years, danced professionally, lived in many cities carrying packages and hoisting equipment all over the place. In all of those experiences I never needed to go to such depths to carry out tasks as I did to get in and out of that ridiculous top.

So is it really worth buying these clothes? Do the risks (injuries, pain, etc.) outweigh the potential benefits (perky breasts that never move, clandestine hideouts for excess flesh)? The answer is unequivocally no. Getting injured stinks. It slows you down, gets you off track and takes you away from what you love to do.

So how do you buy workout clothes that are safe? Clothes should be comfortable and easy to get on and take off. They should be supportive but not restrictive. If you are wearing something restrictive, even if you got it on without a hitch, the restrictions may cause stress elsewhere. Your exercise clothes should also allow you and your teachers to see your alignment honestly but not be so revealing that you are making your fellow exercisers uncomfortable or jealous. Your pants should not be too long or big either. You don’t want to trip on your clothes nor do you want your clothes to get caught on equipment.

The next time you go to purchase workout clothes please try to find something that suits and supports your body and allows you to exercise in a challenging but pain free way.

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