I’m intrigued by the number of celebrities, and regular women, I’ve been seeing sporting waist trainers while working out. My social feed is filled with them! I decided to investigate and see if there’s any truth to the trend – or whether it does more harm than good.
I found that there are definitely pros and cons to the practice that need to be considered before embarking on the lifestyle changes that waist training entails.
From the Kardashian tribe (Kim, Khloe, Kourtney , and now Kylie – the 18 year old youngest) to other celebrities like Jessica Alba, Amber Rose, and Kim Zolciak, stars are aware of the trend towards utilizing these waist trainers to achieve an hourglass shape – but how safe are they really?
While some women may take it to extremes there is benefit in the moderate use of waist trainers, not only while working out, but throughout the day as well. It’s important to be restrained in their use, however, making sure to not alter the body in ways that may end up being more detrimental to our health than beneficial.
Here are some pros and cons of the waist-training workout trend:
Waist trainers can hide serious underlying conditions
Some women decide to use a waist trainer because they are just not seeing results. Perhaps they have been doing ab-targeting exercises that don’t seem to be helping, or the exercises are seemingly making their problem area worse. Some women don a waist trainer without questioning what the underlying issue for their lack of success might be.
When used in this way, waist trainers may be masking a serious muscle injury called diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is a thinning of the abdominal muscles common in women who have given birth to one or more children. It’s rarely diagnosed by health professionals and even more rarely corrected and healed as part of a modified fitness routine. Unfortunately, if you do have diastasis recti all the ab-targeting exercises that trainers might recommend are not only useless, but can exacerbate the injury.
It’s important to work on modifying your movements and daily activities to work on healing your muscle injury first, before starting a rigorous exercise regime. If you do get diagnosed it’s important to work at following programs of modified movements and exercises developed by experts until the injury is fully healed and your abs are knitted back together.
Left untreated and unhealed diastasis recti can lead to unsupported internal organs, back pain, constipation, and in rare cases, hernias. If you suspect you may have diastasis recti a simple at-home test can help you determine how serious it is before you work on healing the condition – not covering it up with a corset.
Excessive use of waist trainers and corsets results in permanent changes
You need only look at “before” and “after” pictures to see how dramatic the results of waist training can be – sometimes too dramatic. This is most appallingly demonstrated by Guinness World Record holder (now deceased) Ethel Granger and her impossibly thin 13 inch wasp waist.
Though Granger still officially holds the world record for narrowest waist, the current living world record is the 15 inch waist of Cathie Jung – a seemingly impossible circumference that she is still aiming to shrink further.
Of course taking tight lacing to this kind of extreme is not normal, or healthy: that’s apparent just by looking at these women’s pictures, I mean, where do their organs go?
Obviously, constant ever decreasing use of corsets can cause massive internal shifts of organs, resulting in shortness of breath, constipation, digestive issues, heart issues, and other ailments. However, little to moderate use will not have as dramatic results, is not likely to cause much damage, and may even help a woman feel stronger and more confident – even leading to other healthy lifestyle changes.
It’s important to note that corseting and waist training can become addictive, so stop before you take it to extremes and before the onset of lasting and irreversible damage and serious health consequences.
Belly binding helps women heal after pregnancy
Belly binding in some cultures is done immediately post-partum to help women heal in the days and weeks following the birth of their children.
In Malaysia this traditional wrapping, known as Bengkung, is tied around the abdomen and hips of a woman to help hold her together after delivery and promote healing. Usually long strips of fabric, sometimes plain fabric, or more elaborately colored tie-dyed strips, are tied, wrapped, and twisted around a new mother by a trained professional.
This is a unique kind of healing and body training in that not just the waist is targeted. In post-partum belly wrapping, most of the torso from ribs to hips is covered in the specialized wrap. Ideally, it’s done by a trained professional and specific to the individual needs of the women being wrapped. It’s not meant to be an off-the-shelf product, and definitely not a one-size-fits-all type procedure.
According to practitioners, and pleased mothers, belly binding can help immensely in the post-partum period. It can reknit the abdominal muscles after childbirth, provide core support, promote erect posture and balance, lessen back pain, and ease other misalignment pains as the body heals and readjusts to a new “normal” after delivery.
Waist training can boost self-confidence in and out of the gym
I love to see women doing what they love, especially if it makes them feel sexy, strong, healthy, and happy.
Even though I’ve mentioned the extremes, most modern waist trainers offer modest support and retraining of the abdominal area, with minimal adverse side effects.
While it may still be difficult to work out in one due to shortness of breath from the slight chest compression, if it gives a women the confidence needed to go work out, I say give it a try!
Be aware of the new limitations and mindful of the fact that you make need to take breaks more frequently or adjust your movements and exercises with a trainer on.
Moderate use of waist trainers can have positive effects: over use can result in serious medical problems.
While trainers and belly-wrapping are common in many parts of the world, they can still be taken to extremes. Use common sense. Above all, make sure you are not inadvertently utilizing a waist trainer to mask an underlying medical condition like diastasis recti or a hernia – or looking for a “quick fix” for all your problems. Be reasonable in your aspirations.
Most modern waist trainers come with a series of hooks and eyes that you can gradually tighten as your waist shrinks or loosen as needed while attempting more strenuous activities – adjust wisely!
Just like any new lifestyle change or physical activity, monitor your body carefully and stop if you need a break. With trainers it is possible to shrink the inches that you gained through your pregnancies. However, I recommend attempting it only if you know you’re done having children, otherwise it will be a lot of effort and discomfort that gets undone the very next time you become pregnant.
Waist trainers and corsets have been a staple of feminine fashion for centuries and they are definitely here to stay. While they may present dangers when used to extremes, with moderate use they can assist in healing muscle injuries, improving posture, assisting in proper form, and giving a needed confidence boost – both while working out and in day-to-day life as well.