Waist Trainers: A Questionable Trend in Fitness

Editor’s Note: Todd Wegerski, clinic director for the Brier Creek, CaryMorrisville and Southpoint Joint Chiropractic clinics contributed to this article.

Cary, NC – In the world of fitness fads, one new trend is something called a “waist trainer.” And if you have heard about it or are curious, a closer look at its medical impact shows it may not be the ideal treatment.

What is a Waist Trainer?

This was a new one for me. I had absolutely no idea what a “waist trainer” was so off to Google I went and the first thing that popped up was an image of Kim Kardashian wearing a “waist trainer.” Right away I recognized what they were talking about.

It is essentially a corset. Now celebrities are claiming to have gotten back “in shape” quickly after giving birth, wearing a waist trainer. One new celebrity mom touted that it helped reduce water retention and swelling of the uterus, “all the while supporting that unwanted baggy baby skin.”

Well what is waist training? It is the practice of wearing a constricting garment – such as a corset or shapewear – to reduce the size of your waistline. This practice goes back hundreds of years, and was popular during the Victorian era as a fashion statement.

Now, while waist trainers wrap around the lower rib cage and waist area to provide an instantly slimming look, they can reduce your midsection instantly by one to three inches. But the result is only temporary: giving a smaller waistline and a overall thinner appearance.

Corsets and other clothing similar to waist trainers go back centuries

What Does It Do To You?

If you want to go out and look really thin, I don’t have a problem with you wearing one of these. But, you’ll probably have to put up with some discomfort as well.

As far as claims that these can reshape the body or trigger fat loss, there is no evidence. That discomfort I was talking about includes difficulty breathing as it interferes with diaphragm motion and causing heartburn as it pushes the stomach and its contents back up into the diaphragm and esophagus. It also compresses all of your organs such as the liver, kidneys, intestines and lungs as mentioned before.

There is video out there of a woman volunteer having an MRI, with and without the corset on. The results are rather dramatic as we get to peer inside of her and see what is happening to her organs. You see the liver being indented and deformed by the ribs. You see the stomach grossly misshapen and pushed back up to the diaphragm. You see the kidneys squished and actually elongated. Now all this squishing of your organs can decrease their blood flow and their ability to function properly!

Also, wearing a waist trainer can actually decrease your core strength, your abdominal muscle tone, and cause atrophy of the muscles that make up your abdominal wall. This is exactly the opposite of what you want if you are looking for that smaller-flatter stomach!

Do Not Recommend

These are not a substitute for a consistent exercise program and proper diet and nutrition. If you want tighter abs, core training including curl-ups and planks form the basis for increasingly abdominal muscle strength and endurance.

To lose weight, there isn’t a cheat or a quick fix to fitness. You have to do it the old-fashioned way of proper nutrition and hard work in the form of moderate to intense exercise. And to those new moms, that uterus is going to shrink when it feels like shrinking, and you can’t get rid of water weight with a corset – it’s simply not true!

Todd Wegerski is the clinic director for the Brier Creek, CaryMorrisville and Southpoint Joint Chiropractic clinics. Photos by Jonathan Rolande and Lucy French.

Health and wellness content is sponsored in part by Joint Chiropractic.