Waist trainers are designed to train your figure into an hourglass shape by “squeezing” your waistline. Basically, they are a modernized version of a corset.
Waist trainers have become a modern trend, thanks to celebrities who post photos and enthusiastic endorsements on their social handles. But just because the famous swear by them doesn’t mean they’re safe to use or they produce the desired results.
Keep on reading as we dive into the realm of waist trainers and get to know their supposed benefits and health risks.
First of all – What’s a waist trainer?
A waist trainer is also known as waist cincher is an undergarment made with thick fabric and plastic or metal boning it is worn around the midsection and cinched up with hooks, Velcro, or a lacing system.
It’s designed to be worn more tightly than shaping underwear or girdle to give you a smaller, sleeker waist. While they give instant results, “training” requires wearing the undergarment frequently over a while.
Waist trainers (corsets) have been around since the 1500s. Originally they were meant to hide a woman’s shape – or most of it – between the breast and the hips.
Around the 1800s, they developed to accentuate a woman’s shape, aiming for the favoured hourglass shape that demands curvy hips and a small waist.
Corsets gradually fell out of fashion as manufacturers continued to reduce the size of already tiny waist corset size resulting in discomfort and other health concerns.
Supposed Benefits of Using Waist Trainers
Waist trainers give you an impressive instant transformation, and the thesis is that you can train your midsection to maintain that shape.
However, a waist trainer won’t extremely change your body shape as noted by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) blog. Even if you have a body type that can temporarily morph into that shape, having a lasting effect is highly unlikely.
Using a waist trainer may help maintain a good posture while wearing it. Though wearing it too much may result in weakened core muscles, causing poor posture and back pain.
Waist trainers tend to make you feel full faster as they are designed to squeeze your stomach. This may cause you to eat less.
Eating the right amount of nutritious food is important to stay healthy and get the minerals and vitamins you need. By reducing your food consumption, your diet may not be sufficient to stay healthy.
You might experience a little amount of weight loss but it’ll most likely not be from loss of fat but rather from loss of fluid through perspiration. And it’s only temporary.
This is not a sustainable or healthy path to weight loss. Even makers and sellers of waist trainers suggest that a healthy diet and exercise should be part of your weight loss plan.
While some waist trainer advocates might suggest you wear your trainer while working out, it’s not a nice idea, it can seriously restrict movement.
Plus, muscles and tissues need oxygen, especially during workouts. Your waist trainer can make it hard to breathe in deeply, making it harder for you to continue your exercise.
A small study was conducted in 2010 to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of losing weight on a very low-calorie diet. The authors also checked if wearing a corset will help in maintaining weight loss in the long term.
The study found that a low-calorie diet was practical, even after one year. However, they were unable to gauge the effectiveness of corsets as most of the participants stopped wearing them due to discomfort.
What are the dangers of wearing waist trainers?
Digestive system issues
Wearing a waist trainer not only squeezes fat and skin, but it also compresses your insides. Parts of your digestive system, including your intestines, stomach, and your oesophagus can be affected.
You could suffer a bad case of heartburn as the pressure can push acid back into your oesophagus from your stomach. If you have gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) using a waist trainer may worsen issues.
Wearing a waist trainer can reduce your lung capacity by an estimated 30 to 60 per cent. It can drain your energy and cause discomfort. Lace it too tight and you might even pass out.
It can even cause fluids to build up in the lungs or lead to inflammation.
Using a waist trainer for weeks on ends can obstruct your lymphatic system, which removes toxins and waste product from your system through a normal range of motion and deep breathing.
Damage to Internal Organs
Your midsection houses a lot of vital organs including your lungs, liver and kidneys. Fitting them into a waist trainer can force them into unnatural positions as they try to adapt to the limited space.
This can change how organs function and affect blood flow. Over time, waist training can lead to permanent organ damage, disfigure your body, or even rib fractures.
When is it safe to use a waist trainer?
Wearing a traditional corset as part of a costume isn’t harmful, as long as you don’t cinch it too tight. You can also wear a waist trainer under a special outfit once in a while like you would a body shaper or girdle.
If it’s not too restrictive, you should be fine. If you feel light-headed or short of breath, loosen the waist trainer or take it off as soon as possible.
Are there safer ways to work on your waistline?
There are other ways to shape your waist;
- Regular exercise: Mix strength training and aerobic exercise to help burn fat and to strengthen and tone your muscles. A personal trainer can recommend a workout routine to fit your need.
- Balanced diet: Cut down on overly processed food, sugary beverages and snacks. Concentrate on reducing your portion size and consume only fresh, whole food
- Less restrictive shapewear: Go for undergarments that help to give you a curvy shape without restricting breathing. Some waist trainers come with flexible plastic boning for extra freedom of movement.
- Talk to your doctor: Seek your doctor’s advice on healthier and more effective ways to lose weight.
- Speak with a specialist: If you feel like changing any part of your body, ask your doctor to refer you to a board-certified plastic or cosmetics surgeon.
Waist trainers do not guarantee any long-term or dramatic effect on your shape. They can even cause health problems when cinched too tightly or overused.
The safest and most effective way to lose and maintain a healthy weight is through regular exercises and a balanced diet.
Wearing a waist trainer during workouts or under dresses probably won’t cause any problems, so long as you don’t lace it too tight. Speak with your doctor or health practitioner about the effectiveness and safety of waist trainers.