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Do Waist Trainers Work? Are They Worth Buying?

Waist trainers are very popular lately. An abnormally small waist and exaggerated hourglass shape is in. Looking at various websites there are numerous claims purporting the benefits of waist trainers. Benefits such as better breathing, less headaches, improved menstrual cramps, belly toning, posture correction, abdominal support after pregnancy, and low back strengthening. Are these benefits true? What are the risks? Is there something better?

 

How does it work?

Waist Trainers are a modern version of the corset that fastens around the waist to hold in and tighten the midsection. It works in a few different ways:

  • It compresses the abdomen and forces organs to rearrange into a smaller space, essentially pushing them higher in the ribcage.
  • Your floating ribs are compressed and “Trained” to stay in a tighter configuration.
  • The compression from the Trainer supports the back and encourages better posture.
  • Many Trainers are made out of latex and that causes the wearer to sweat more thus losing water weight.

 

Does This Really Work Though?

This is a good question, especially if you’re thinking about wearing one of these all day long!

Research says that if one is looking for a lasting result they are not effective. Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine says, “Medically, it doesn’t make sense that cinching your waist tightly will make it permanently smaller. Once you take the garment off, your body will return to its usual shape…” [1]. It can be likened to putting an elastic band around your finger. When it is removed there will be an indentation but in a short amount of time your finger will return to its normal shape.  So yes a Waist Trainer will shrink your waist but it has to be worn constantly to retain the results.

So If It Works, Why Not Wear It Every Day

Although Waist Trainers do work temporarily there are some valid concerns surrounding wearing them day in and day out. Compressing your abdomen may look attractive but there is a reason that our bodies are not naturally shaped this way. The proper functioning of our organs and the proper expansion of our diaphragm depend on a wider waist.

Here are some of the dangers associated with “Waist Training”

  • Constriction of internal organs. Our organs are meant to have adequate space in the abdomen in order to receive blood flow and function properly. When organs are compressed several problems arise. There is an increased risk of acid reflux as the stomach is pushed upward, the diapharam muscle is inhibited due to intra abdominal pressure, and intestinal motility is reduced. [2]
  • Ribcage Compression. Waist Trainers squeeze the ribcage and alter the positioning of the floating ribs. This can potentially lead to permanent damage to the ribs and mechanically prevents our lungs from expanding to full capacity. Our breathing is responsible for oxygenation of tissues and lymphatic circulation so this causes poor systemic circulation. Ribcage compression also compresses the stomach and acts similar to a LAP band in restricting the amount of food that can be eaten. Although this may sound good it reduces the amount of nutrients introduced into the body and can cause nutritional deficiencies.
  • Loss of strength in core muscles. Our core muscles are responsible for supporting the lower half of our spine to maintain posture and back stability. Although a Waist Trainer improves postural awareness the added support they offer reduces the need for our core muscles to activate. This causes weakness in the core muscles over time causing an increased risk of spinal injury and a reduction of core stability.

Is There An Alternative?

The good news is that there are alternatives to create a thinner and tighter waistline. It may not look unnaturally small but it will be very attractive and natural looking

  • Drink plenty of water. It’s really that simple. Drinking more water not only hydrates your body and is healthy but it also helps satiate appetite and lowers total caloric intake throughout the day. This in turn leads to weight loss. Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 8 glasses a day although increased activity level can alter this figure. Drinking enough water a day also encourages your metabolism to work efficiently and prevents your body from retaining excess water in turn getting rid of extra water weight.
  • Adjust your diet. I know no one wants to hear this but alas its true. Watch what you eat and you won’t be storing extra calories in your waistline. An American diet is especially high in carbohydrates and sugar, which are abundant sources of energy. If its not being used all of that energy turns to fat. Although I don’t recommend any one diet specifically I do think that a Paleo style way of eating is optimal for reducing the midsection. Don’t think no carb, think reduced carbohydrate intake and an increase in fruits (natural sugars), vegetables, and protein. Cut out the processed garbage
  • Exercise!  Again I know this is not everyone’s favorite but we don’t have to become fitness models to see good results. 3 days a week of moderate exercise for 45 minutes to an hour will make a significant change in body shape and overall health. You’ll feel better while looking better!

 

1 Very Important Exercise To Combine With Everything We’ve Talked About!

  • TVA Vacuums. This is an old body building exercise that bodybuilders used to maintain a very small waistline. This exercise was popularized by bodybuilder Frank Zane who was a prolific figure during the 60’s and 70’s. Don’t worry it will not make you huge like a bodybuilder! It is really a Pranayama yoga technique. This exercise involves lying on your back and sucking your belly button in towards the spine and holding it there for about 15 seconds. What this does is strengthen the Transverse Abdominis Muscle, which acts as a natural waist belt for the body. Repeated practice will tighten your waist and narrow your waistline.

 

    Tying It All Together

Although the waist trainer seems like an easy way to get a great waistline the truth is that it comes with a lot of unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects. A better way to get the body you want is with some work. Again, I know that’s not what anyone wants to hear, but the truth is that if you make small lifestyle changes every day you will get your desired result and you will feel better too! Taking shortcuts in life gives us results that lack firm footing. Make a few lifestyle changes and have a healthy, tighter toned body.

1. The Dangers of Waist Training.” The Doctors. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.                                      

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1537727

3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929932/

 

 

 

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