Words and Photo by Danielle Baker
I like men who ride in tight jeans. I enjoy watching them struggle to pull their jeans up over their kneepads, I think because it looks roughly as awkward and exposed as I feel when I'm peeing in the woods.
I am not really one to worry much about what other people ride in, aside from a slight jealousy when I see 16-year-old boys looking better in tight pants than I do, but a simple Google search reveals scads of people with strong opinions about this particular fashion choice in our riding community.
There is nothing that ages you more than criticizing the fashion choices of a new generation, and yet there are pages and pages of references to "girl jeans", emo kids, and the superiority of riding in tights. Among these opinionated folk there also seems to be some debate about the appropriate age for tight pants. Forum experts weigh-in with everything from no appropriate age, to you have to be pre-pubescent, or pre-thirty. This is something I probably should be taking into account.
Are fashion trends really all that dangerous to our health? We still see girls in stilettos regardless of all the public safety announcements about the damage they can do to our feet, legs, and backs. I decided to spend some time researching the dangers of riding in tight pants. The Internet will have you believe that there are some real disadvantages to making yourself into a mountain biking sausage, and some of them are kind of gross.
The Swedish Tight Pants Theory
A 'somewhat scientific' study from the '70's, referred to as The Swedish Tight Pants Theory, postulates that Swedish men of the disco era suffered from higher infertility rates than the rest of the world due to the their stylish tight pants. It is believed that the overheating of the crotch, also referred to as genital heat stress, that can be caused by tight jeans can lead to low sperm count causing infertility in men. Could it be that less slopestyle genes will be passed along to future generations? Perhaps we should encourage Semenuk to wear Hammer pants.
TENA Men, a male incontinence protection brand, conducted a study of 2,000 men who wear tight pants, one quarter of them experience bladder problems, including overactive bladder. This comes along with an urgency to urinate and/or incontinence with or without urge; basically you might be peeing right now.
Studies show that 1 in 9 men in the UK are currently experiencing some form of this condition. As one of the longer-term consequences of wearing tight pants, this is nothing that a fanny pack catheter wouldn't fix.
Meralgia Paresthetica is nerve damage caused by pressure on the pelvis. It causes a painful, burning and tingling in they thighs and repeat episodes can cause permanent damage. Medical experts suggest that middle-aged men with prominent beer bellies who try to fit into tight jeans are at a higher risk of developing this particular type of nerve damage, maybe the tight jeans fad isn't for men over thirty after all.
Without room to move the spermatic cord that holds the testicles in place can twist around it, testicle torsion, and cut off blood supply causing the testicle to become gangrenous. Immediate surgery is required to avoid permanent damage or removal. The good news is that the situation is so painful help is usually sought in enough time to prevent surgery. In a study of 2000 men who wear tight pants, one in five had experienced it, ouch. I don't even have them and that one makes me cross my legs and go weak in the knees.
This is a rare but disfiguring condition believed to be caused by pressure on the thighs, skin depressions appear due to atrophy of the subcutaneous tissue. Bored? Try googling photos of it.
"Tight Pants Syndrome"
A term coined in a 1993 article by Dr. Octavio Bessa, references tight pants interfering with motility in one's bowels, causing abdominal pain, distension, heartburn, and belching after meals. "Tight Pants Syndrome" is easily diagnosed, research by Dr. Bessa shows that people complaining of the syndrome often are wearing pants that are an average 7.5 centimeters (roughly 3 inches) smaller than their waist.
The good news is that the syndrome will usually resolve after six weeks of wearing looser-fitting clothing. Perhaps Tums or Pepto-Bismol will be the next sponsor of AT's Showdown.
Friction caused by tight jeans and sweat can cause a skin irritation referred to as Folliculitis. It occurs when bacteria, fungi or viruses enter the hair follicles on your legs and cause inflammation, the result is small red bumps resembling pimples with whiteheads in the middle. Most cases disappear without treatment. Essentially your legs will look like your face did in high school.
Tight restrictive pants put your vagina at risk. On women they can cause yeast infections; severe itching, burning, pelvic pain, irritation, and a whitish discharge, often with a curd-like appearance. Yum. Please be nice to your vaginas.
Urinary Tract and Bladder Infections
Tight pants create a moist and hot environment where bacteria can breed and re-enter the body. Urinary tract and bladder infections cause frequent urination and severe pain. I had my pants off at "breed and re-enter your body".
Additional reading listed the negative effects of tight pants as stretching of the joint capsules, negative effects on the spine, reduced lymph flow, and blood clots.
Luckily we have advanced beyond the jeans that were surgically removed from teenage girls in the 1970's. Women would soak in the bath in their jeans so that they would dry on as tight as possible; advancements in Lycra have reduced hospital visits in the last forty years. Still, after reading about all of the extreme medical side effects of tight pants, I wonder if Depend and Canesten will sponsor future years of slope style competitions.
You don't need to be a medical expert to understand that most of these are caused by extreme and long-term situations. I sincerely hope that everyone's tight pants (well, everyone's pants actually) are ending up in a pile on the floor regularly enough that you aren't going to end up peeing yourself on the regular before you turn twenty-five.