High-waisted leggings have been a girl’s best friend for the better part of a decade. But should they be?

From a Pelvic Health perspective, the answer is no, they should not be.

Remember that when we talk about the pelvic floor, we are looking at everything from the abdomen down through the inner thighs. Although the pelvic floor consists of over 20 muscles, it works together as a whole system alongside the abdomen, glutes, hip flexors, adductors, etc. They are all connected and therefore all affected by each other as a cohesive unit made up of discrete parts.

The compression from high-waisted leggings puts pressure on the abdomen and the bladder. It’s almost like you’re wearing a belly binder for 12 hours plus. And while the compression is not as severe as a belly-binder, high-waisted leggings can impede belly-breathing and proper core-activation.

How does this happen?

Well, when we are not belly breathing, and are holding our abs contracted inside of high-waisted leggings, it can also cause us to contract and hold tension in our pelvic floor. Any kind of sucking in/compression is not good for the pelvic floor and core.

Let me give you an example to illustrate.

Let’s say you’re on a walk and you’re wearing pants that hit below the belly button. You trip on a crack and your core immediately activates to help you fall more safely. It braces and you can likely right yourself before falling completely.

But what if you had been wearing your matching crop top and high-waisted legging set? Things might go a little differently…on your walk when you trip on the crack. Your core is already mildly contracted/being held in by the leggings, and it doesn’t get the signal to activate and support you. You faceplant and rip your beautiful, trendy, rust-colored athleisure set. (Were you envisioning more of a pastel or did I hit your mental picture on the head with the rust?)

Aside from inhibiting your core to fully/properly activate, high-waisted leggings can also make it harder to belly breathe.

You should always be breathing into your abdomen. When you take a deep breath, you should actually notice your abdomen puff out, fully relaxed and filled with air, as opposed to seeing your chest rise.

So what happens when the lower belly is restricted with high-waisted leggings? That restriction can cause shallower breaths between the diaphragm and the top of the leggings. These shallower breaths do not allow the pelvic floor muscles to contract and relax, which can lead over time to tension in the abdomen and pelvic floor (think potential for constipation, bloating, leakage, etc.)

So while you do look really, really cute in those high-waisted leggings, and you do not need to forego that cuteness altogether, definitely try and mix it up a little and roll them down once in a while (or every other wear).

Curious to learn more about what may be causing abdominal pain, bloating, leakage, constipation and more? Book a FREE 10-minute consult call today. We know we can help you ✨

Be empowered in education,

OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy

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