Do waist trainers work?: Benefits and risks
Waist trainers are similar to corsets. Proponents say they slim the waistline and help people achieve an hourglass figure. However, squeezing the waist may damage the internal organs and cause difficulty with breathing and digestion. They do not reduce body fat.
Before deciding to use a waist trainer, it is important to understand that the product may not necessarily be safe or effective.
Keep reading for more information about waist trainers, including their apparent benefits and potential risks.
A waist trainer is a shaping garment similar to a girdle. The waist trainer pulls a person’s midsection in as tight as possible. The idea behind a waist trainer is that the pulling action gives the person a sleeker, smaller waist.
Waist trainers usually consist of a combination of tough fabric and hard fibers. Hooks, Velcro, lacing, or other strong fasteners hold the trainer tightly in place.
Advocates believe that it is possible to “train” the waist to retain a slimmer shape after frequent wearing of the garment over an extended period. Some people suggest that wearing a waist trainer while working out can aid weight loss.
Waist trainers work in a similar way to corsets, which fell out of fashion due to discomfort and health concerns.
A waist trainer can produce a temporary reduction in waist size or circumference, and a person will typically see immediate results. However, as soon as they take off the waist trainer, their waist will no longer look smaller.
Also, waist trainers do not reduce a person’s body fat. People looking to lose body fat around their midsection or lose substantial weight overall should not rely on wearing a waist trainer to do this.
However, a person may feel a loss of appetite while wearing a waist trainer. The garment puts pressure on the stomach, which can create an artificial feeling of fullness.
Some people claim that waist trainers can provide a range of benefits to those wanting a sleeker body shape. These include:
The main supposed benefit of a waist trainer is that wearing it is a fast and easy way to get an hourglass figure.
While the waist trainer may give that impression when a person wears it, according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) blog, the garment will not drastically change a person’s body shape. After a person has removed the waist trainer, it is unlikely to have a lasting effect.
Instead, if a person is looking to lose weight or increase fat loss, they should consider improving their diet and exercising more often.
Any weight loss from wearing a waist trainer is more likely to be due to increased sweating than to any loss of body fat.
While wearing a waist trainer, a person may feel as though they have a decreased appetite. However, this change is due to the garment squeezing the stomach. It is important to follow a healthful diet and eat the right amount of nutritious food.
Some people recommend wearing a waist trainer while exercising. However, this can be dangerous as wearing a waist trainer not only restricts movement but can also make it difficult to breathe.
A small older study looking at whether waist training had an effect on weight loss was inconclusive. The researchers said that this was because the majority of the participants gave up wearing a corset due to discomfort.
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Wearing a waist trainer may temporarily help with improving posture. However, if a person wears it too much, it may instead weaken the core muscles and result in back pain and poor posture.
Waist trainers may provide support to women whose abdominal muscles have stretched or thinned following pregnancy. The extra support may help reduce pain and discomfort.
According to a study from the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, women who wore a waist support garment after a cesarean delivery experienced less pain and bleeding than those who did not wear one.
The long-term use of waist trainers could have some negative effects on a person’s overall health. A waist trainer can potentially harm a person by:
A small 2018 report suggests that using a waist trainer while exercising may cause breathing difficulties. The participants displayed shortness of breath, sweating, and increased pain when they wore a waist trainer while performing a breathing maneuver to simulate exercise.
According to the ABCS, wearing a waist trainer can reduce lung capacity by 30–60%. It may also cause fluid buildup and inflammation of the lungs.
Squeezing the midsection with constant force will likely cause internal organs, such as the liver and kidneys, to shift into unnatural positions. This shifting of internal organs may affect the blood flow, and it can change how well the organs function. It may even lead to permanent organ damage.
A blog post from the Royal College of Surgeons of England mentions that long-term use of a corset can also lead to the deformation of the rib cage.
The shifting of organs due to a waist trainer may also affect the digestive organs, such as the esophagus (food pipe), stomach, and intestines.
As well as interfering with digestion, the constant pressure can force stomach acid back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. If a person has gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), wearing a waist trainer may exacerbate the symptoms.
Waist training is similar to fad diets and many fitness fads. It may provide some temporary waist thinning, but it ultimately does not provide a safe, long-term solution to weight or fat loss.
Long-term use of waist trainers can lead to organ damage. It can also lead to digestive issues, such as acid reflux.
Waist training also makes breathing difficult. A person may not get enough oxygen or become easily winded. For this reason, they should not wear a corset or waist trainer during exercise.
If a person feels lightheaded or short of breath, they should remove the waist trainer immediately.
Questions that people may ask about a waist trainer include:
A waist trainer will not help reduce body fat, but it can make abdominal fat more compact. It can also push the internal organs into unnatural positions, though.
Although waist trainer enthusiasts believe that a person can wear one while working out, this is not advisable. Waist trainers can make breathing hard.
Women should talk to their doctor before putting on a waist trainer when pregnant. A waist trainer puts pressure on the abdomen, which could cause issues for the developing fetus.
Waist trainers are a shortcut to having a thinner looking waist in the short term. Most healthcare professionals agree that the best way to lose weight or inches from around the waist is through a healthful diet and regular exercise.
Regarding the diet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend:
For exercise, a person should focus on both cardiovascular activities, such as running or walking, and strength training, such as lifting weights.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that people get 150 minutes a week of cardiovascular exercise and activities and that they do resistance training on at least 2 days of the week.
Before making any drastic changes to their diet or exercise regimen, a person should talk to their doctor. A doctor can give specific advice based on a person’s health.
A person may wish to talk to their doctor if they are trying to lose weight, and diet and exercise are not working. A doctor may be able to recommend additional steps or direct them to a dietitian or personal trainer.
Waist trainers provide a waist slimming effect, but it is only temporary. They do not provide permanent change and will not aid meaningful weight loss.
These garments also have several associated risks, including breathing difficulties, digestion issues, and organ damage due to long-term use.
A person looking to slim their waist should consider sustainable dietary and exercise changes instead.