Just Ask Sam: What is Waist Training?

Celebrities such as the Kardashians and Jessica Alba swear by waist training but just what is it and how does it work? The biggest question is; is it safe? We sat down with health and fitness experts to get the rundown on the latest fashion accessory of Hollywood; the modern-day corset.

The History of Waist Training

Interest arose in the world of waist training thanks to the famous Kardashian sisters, who posted pictures of themselves wearing waist-trainers across their Instagram accounts. These waist trainers are basically material that wraps tightly around your waist and lower rib cage and leaves you with an hourglass look.

Plenty of other models and celebs have gotten in on the waist training bandwagon including Brooke Burke-Charvet and Jessica Alba, who claim that the devices helped them get their pre-pregnancy bodies back after giving birth.

Burke-Charvet actually went on to create her own waist wraps, including one made specifically for new moms that works by reducing water retention and uterus swelling, along with supporting the saggy baby skin left post-pregnancy. There’s also a sports version that should be worn during exercise to promote sweating.

Do They Work?

Caroline Apovian, MD and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, as well as a spokesperson for the Obesity Society says that waist trainers don’t work and can only deliver temporary results.

She feels that there is no problem with wearing a waist-trainer if you’re headed out and want to appear slimmer. She added that wearing a waist trainer can even make women feel more encouraged and motivated to exercise and eat healthy. It could be a good thing to like the person looking back at you in the mirror.

She did add that there is no evidence that these devices can actually trigger fat loss or alter the shape of your body and feels that such claims are complete nonsense. Some experts are under the belief that wearing waist trainer too much could actually reduce your core strength which, according to celebrity trainer Nicole Glor, is the exact opposite of what someone needs when trying to get a sexy stomach.

The Risks of Waist Training

When the waist trainer is too tight – something many of them are if we’re looking at the celeb photos – then it can cause discomfort, stop you from breathing properly, and also cause heartburn. Dr Apovian says that the waist trainer could push your stomach up beyond your diaphragm which will lead to reflux. If you wear a waist trainer and you’ve noticed any of these symptoms then you should loosen it or just take it off entirely.

Glor says it’s also a bad idea to wear a waist cincher during a workout, especially if it’s so tight that it stops you from moving or breathing properly. Not being able to breath properly can affect your ability to really push yourself and there’s also an increased risk of acne with all that sweat.

Can it Work for New Moms?

Working out while using a waist trainer can help women feel more comfortable after giving birth according to Dr Apovian. They make you feel tighter and they reduce the amount of higgle around your stomach which could leave you feeling more confident about exercising.

She added that this extra support is no excuse to push yourself too hard though, and feels that the other supposed benefits for post-birth women are dubious. She says that you can’t lose water weight using a corset and that the only thing that can make the uterus shrink is the uterus.

Glor tells of how a physical therapist instructed her to wear a post-natal wasit band when she did her core exercises following her C-section. This was because she had developed a condition known as diastasis recti; which meant that her ab muscles separated and her intestines pushed through her abdominal wall.

She believes that the device didn’t do much to help the condition though, and it had no effect on her abs, which is bad news for a waistline that’s been formed over many years. She feels that it’s a lot of pain with no gain.

The Bottom Line on Waist Trainers

To put it simply waist trainers just don’t have a long term effect on the size, shape, or appearance of your waist. They can make you look slimmer while you’re wearing some but there are potential health risks and discomfort involved.

If you’re looking to tighten your abs then some core exercises, such as planks and twisting crunches, can really help define your stomach muscles. If you want to lose weight around your waist then you need to tick to the tried and true method of diet and exercise. People can look all they want for a cheap and quick fix for weight loss but there isn’t one.