How Clothing Can Hurt Your Lymphatic System

July 9, 2018 BY Rochelle Clark

I love to feel good in the clothing I’m in. And as a professional lymphatic massage therapist, I also know the importance of presenting myself as an expert in my field. However, it can take a good deal of effort to balance style with health.

Let me explain, because of my knowledge of the lymphatic system, I know that certain types of clothing have a negative effect on your health.

I know you don’t want to risk your health for the sake of fashion, so I’ve listed a few fashion tips below, but before we go there, let’s explore how the lymphatic system works and why clothing matters.

How the Lymphatic System Functions

The lymphatic system works as a network of tissues and organs, and their primary goal is to eliminate toxins and other waste from the body. The lymphatic system transports lymph, which is a fluid that has infection fighting white blood cells, to all parts of the body.

Now, I won’t bore you with the biological break down, but the lymphatic system uses vessels to filter this fluid to transport and remove toxins seamlessly. It is a beautiful system, but it relies on proper circulation to function correctly. When blocked, dis-eases of the lymphatic system are likely. Swelling, pain, and immobility may likely develop as a result.

The reality is, the clothing we wear can be one of the greatest threats to our lymphatic system. Here’s why…

Why Clothing Can Have a Negative Effect on Your Lymphatic System

As women, there are countless clothing items and products marketed to us to keep us looking toned and slim. The problem is, these products may wreak havoc on our lymphatic system.

For example, one of the greatest threats to our gastrointestinal system is shape wear. Shape wear can cause stomach acid to back up in our esophagus. This leads to acid reflux if you continue to wear it.

Another issue is circulation. When you wear shapewear, you’re essentially placing rubber-bands on your body. Those ‘bands’ tighten when you sit down leading to issues like lymph blockage. There have even been reports of nerve damage from too tight of jeans.

Your lymphatic system is sensitive, and it requires complete free flow to your extremities. Anytime it is inhibited you risk more complicated issues that can prevent your body from removing toxins, and fighting off infections, possibly even cancer cells.

Tips for Choosing Lymphatic System Friendly Clothing

So, if shapewear and tight jeans aren’t good for you, what can you wear? Well, lots, in fact! These are some of the greatest offenders to the lymphatic system and a few tips for what you should wear to keep your system functioning at its highest level.

-Bras and Underwear

Aside from shapewear, bras can also be brutal on your system. Push-up bras and ill-fitted bras can lead to lymphatic issues. I highly recommend getting properly fitted for your bra and avoid push-ups at all cost. Avoid underwear with tight elastic that leaves marks in your groin and thigh area.

-Jeans and Pants

Stay away from super skinny jeans. If you must wear jeans, be sure to try sitting in them before you leave the dressing room. If the clothing pinches your skin continue searching.


Dresses are a great way to combat lymphatic congestion or blockage. Loose fitting materials are great and allow your entire body to breathe. Again, try on the dress and sit down in the dressing room to make sure it is comfortable weather you’re standing or sitting.


Believe it or not, your shoes are also important to your lymphatic system. Flats can be just as bad as high heels. Strive for supportive flat, enclosed shoes to keep your lymphatic system healthy.

For greater holistic lymphatic system health, you should check out some of the other blog posts I’ve written on the subject including:

And if you are interested in a lymphatic massage to detox your system on a regular basis, please reach out to me via my contact form.

5 Responses

  1. Bernice says:

    Thanks for the article. I’ve worn girdles and long line bras all my life. I getting ready for lymphatic drainage therapy. Part of that therapy is to wear compression stockings 20/30 afterward. Your thoughts on this?

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Hi Bernice,

      It is common to recommend compression stockings if you have edema and/or venous insufficiency in your legs. Since you are not a client of mine, I cannot say what the proper type of compression stocking would be. I defer to your current therapist.

  2. Marianne Vrieze says:

    Hee, i wonder if sportleggings are OK to wear, i know try are usually made of toxic material, but anyone know material non toxic? Also i love some cotton leggings to wear but they are cold in winter and also feel a bit makes me feel naked on the streets.

    Thanks in advantage!

  3. Irma says:

    Do you think elastic bands on sleeves of womens clothes (usually found above elbows) and Bras contribute to breast cancer? Hence more women develop it?

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Hello Irma, I do believe that tight clothing interferes with optimal lymphatic flow. I know that when I wear tight elastic on any part of my body, it leave red marks on my skin and there is a small amount of swelling. There is a good book, that is also a bit controversial, called “Dressed to Kill.” It speaks about bras and breast cancer. I cannot say whether or not tight clothing or improperly fitting bras actually cause cancer. From my own personal experience, I develop breast pain when wearing underwire bras. I don’t consider that an optimal outcome. I prefer bras that are more comfortable without an underwire.

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