Do Waist Trainers Work?


waist trainers before and after

While strolling down the halls of an ornate, historical, art exhibit, you’ve probably come across one or two paintings where the woman seemed to have a beyond normal curve in the mid section.

It’s not that they had some kind of huge booty and curves, but instead, they just had a tiny waist.

That has to be some kind of artistic licensing…or at the very least a very strange birth defect, right?

Who is born with that kind of an exaggerated hourglass figure?

Well, it’s not a birth defect, and chances are there wasn’t any artistic licensing (unless the painted subject sat on a throne somewhere and threatened to remove the painter’s head from his neck if he didn’t reduce the waistline).

Waist cinching proved to be all the rage hundreds of years ago (back when having wide hips identified someone as capable of giving birth to many children) and while it never completely went away, it has proven more popular now than it has been in decades, thanks mostly in part to celebrities such as the Kardashians (we use the term “celebrity” loosely here).

These looks are not always natural but instead obtained through a device known as a waist trainer.

Is a waist trainer desirable, and is it even healthy?

We’ve got you and your answers covered right here!

What is a Waist Trainer?

A waist trainer is a churched up term for a corset. 

The corset comes with a very old-fashioned visage of a Medieval woman struggling to slip into a corset while a half-dozen ladies-in-waiting tie up straps in the back to tighten up the woman’s waist and give her the thin appearance she (or the rest of the world at the time) wanted.

In order to avoid that kind of imagery, makers of the modern corset now refer to it as a “waist trainer.”

To be fair, there is no actual training with a waist trainer. You don’t call braces teeth trainers, yet the two work in very similar manors. People just like the idea that they are “training” for something. Plus manufacturers of the product probably tapped marketing firms to come up with the best name for such a product and they came back with the waist trainer.

The design of the waist trainer hasn’t changed all that much from the original corset. It fits right around the waist, typically resting right above the hips and ending right below the bust.

The corset is then tightened in order to give an exaggerated appearance of an hourglass look.

What Do Waist Trainers Do?

We’ve mentioned a bit ago, waist trainers are very similar to that of braces.

Braces work because over time, the tightened brace causes the teeth’s roots to push up against ligaments holding the teeth in place, resulting in the teeth to shift into the desired location.

With regards to waist trainers, the tight confines of the construction squeeze in completely around the bone structure of the rib cage. This, over prolonged and continual usage, will eventually start to pull the rib cage in. It’s like if you’ve ever seen a tree (or another plant) grow around a fence or other object. It has slowly morphed and changed due to continuously applied pressure.

The wearer of the waist trainer can then continue to tighten the corset in order to continually increase the defined hourglass look, or they can stop.

Before we go further, let’s make sure you understand the difference between a waist trainer and a waist cincher.

The two are different products.

A waist trainer is another word for a corset.

A waist cincher, on the other hand, is designed more if you carry weight in the front of your body/belly. The waist cincher is not going to give you the defined hourglass look. Instead, it is going to tighten and pull up the body fat to help reduce the appearance of the front bulge.

This kind of an object is used by really anyone (both men and women). It is also commonly used by mothers who just gave birth and have an excess tissue.

waist trainers san diego

What Happens to the Body During Waist Training?

First of all, let’s answer the main question.

Do waist trainers work?

The main purpose of the waist trainer is to give you more of that hourglass look. If worn properly, it can give you the defined hourglass look, so yes, these devices really can work.

However, you can’t just wear it every once in a while if you want the physical appearance of an hourglass (even without the waist trainer on).

When you purchase the waist trainer you need to wear it every day. Most will come with some instructions, or you can follow different style guidelines for wearing one. Like braces though, each person is a bit different and responds differently to a waist trainer.

Now that we know a waist trainer does actually work, let’s look at what it can do to your body.

The waist trainer physically applies pressure to the area between your hips and right under your bust area. This makes up almost your entire rib cage. The steady pressure along with the hourglass shape of the waist trainer eventually squeezes in the bones, resulting in the physical hourglass appearance on your body.

Of course, the shift in your rib cage isn’t the only thing that is shifting and moving. You have bodily organs inside your body that move along with it. Now, minor waist training may not result in any real movement in your organs.

However, if you train for a prolonged period of time it will eventually result in a rather drastic adjustment in your organ placement (Women’s Health, 2014).

The Dangers of Waist Trainers

If you were to ask a manufacturer about possible dangers regarding their products, they would naturally tell you it is perfectly safe.

There are celebrities who endorse waist trainers, while others who have worn waist trainers for years say they have never had a side effect associated with wearing the waist trainer.

All of that is fine and good, but it’s necessary to look at the facts and to really understand the possible dangers of using a waist trainer.

After all, shifting your bodily organs can’t be all good for you, right?

According to an interview conducted by USA Today (2015), Dr. Paul Jeffords, a spinal surgeon, says wearing a waist trainer is like putting a rubber band around your finger. Take it off after a few hours and it will go back to normal.

However, if you wear the rubber band for days, if not months, around your finger, you’re going to develop some serious problems. The adjustments and shifting of bodily organs not only causes this rubber band effect (as more organs are compressed into a smaller space), but it can cause problems with the attached nerves and ligaments connecting the organs to the spinal cord.

Realistically, the problems with waist trainers and organ shifting are something that occurs to those people who wear the corsets for months at a time, and often for well past the recommended 10 hours or so a day.

The more common side effects and medical conditions someone who wears the waist trainers for just a few weeks include an increased level of heartburn, a boost in indigestion issues and even passing out due to the lack of oxygen (due to the body not use to a restricted airflow, which is caused by the squeezing of the diaphragm, which cuts down air brought in through the lungs).

So, in terms of actual medical recommendations, you’re not going to get one with regards to wearing a waist trainer.

Doctors will say it is fine to wear such a trainer for special occasions if you want the appearance of an hourglass look, but in terms of any kind of long-term use, it should be avoided completely due to the possible organ damage it may lead to.

Are There Any Actual Health Benefits?

Alright, so if you use waist trainers for a prolonged period of time you might crush your organs.

Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but for some, pain is beauty (although we do draw a line when it comes to squeezing our bodily organs).

For those who are still interested, or at the very least considering a waist trainer, is there actually any kind of health benefit behind it?

Yes…kind of.

Basically, with all of your organs being crushed, there is pressure placed against your stomach. This pressure reduces your level of hunger, meaning you are less likely to overeat. So, in reality, you may end up dropping a few pounds because you don’t eat as much, but that is just a potential health benefit. Most manufacturers of waist trainers will instruct you to eat a healthy diet simply because your stomach may struggle to digest larger amounts of food (especially if you eat heavier food with an abundance of carbs and fats).

It is also recommended for you to eat a healthy diet due to the increase in heartburn and indigestion issues.

Each person is different here.

However, as you squeeze all of your bodily organs into a smaller internal cavity, the organs are going to push back.

This means, over time, you are likely going to see the results of the tighter waist begin to fill back out. Again, we’re going to use the braces comparison. You may know some people (it may have even happened to yourself) who wore braces and yet their teeth are crooked, or a bit out of place again.

Now, it is a bit different with teeth because it is the ligaments between your teeth’s roots and the jaw that shift, so any continued shifting with teeth is usually because the ligaments were either loose or still shifting. With your waist, it is part your organs pushing back against the rib cage and gravity.

Because the shift in your body may result in losing some of your waist shrinking results, there are plenty of people who return back to their waist trainer in order to restore the look. The problem with this is it squeezes the organs again. The continual squeezing and shifting of your organs is not something you want.

So going into it, should you decide to proceed with wearing a waist trainer, you need to understand it likely is not a permanent result. Your waist will start to push back to its original shape (Marie Claire, 2016).

Should You Work Out With a Waist Trainer?

If you decide to go about wearing a waist trainer, do you need to go about working out your core?

After all, you’re reducing the size, so won’t it be tender or something else like that?

There are some who won’t work out, but it is essential for you to work your core if you use a waist trainer. You are going to shift and adjust your muscular alignment doing this, which is another reason you should probably avoid doing it long term.

However, if you do not have abdominal muscles, it becomes even more difficult to perform basic tasks (like bending over to tie your shoes). This is because as your abdominal muscles are adjusted, you don’t have as many stabilizing your movements.

You may have seen older cartoons of women wearing corsets and they seem to wobble from their midsection. There is some truth to this because they don’t have the core muscle strength to remain erect. Target your abs and work your core.

Otherwise, you’ll end up like one of these cartoon characters (Elle, 2016).

In Conclusion

In answering the basic question of “do waist trainers work,” the answer is yes. If you want a smaller waist then yes, the object does work.

The biggest question though should be whether you risk the health side effects to do it?

This answer comes down to whether you’d rather listen to Kim Kardashian or medical professionals.

The choice is yours.

-Terry Asher

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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