Are Waist Trainers Bad For You? Here's What Experts Have To Say About Them
There’s really no denying the fact that the society we live in, and the millennial generation specifically, loves a quick fix — especially when it comes to body image and working out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of "miracle" supplements and body-shaping products that promise to change the way you look, but are waist trainers bad for you? Our culture has painted a picture of an "ideal" physique, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with naturally having a tiny waist, curvy legs, and a protruding bust, every body is beautiful in its own way, and each deserves to be celebrated and appreciated accordingly. And, look, here's the thing: Striving for a specific type of body will almost always set you up for failure. Not only should a healthy lifestyle be about finding ways that make you feel good rather than look good, but experts also want you to know waist trainers just aren't the answer.
If you have absolutely no idea what a waist trainer is, you probably haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashians, who have posted selfies donning the body-sculpting product in the past. Modern day waist trainers are basically corsets or latex cinchers worn anywhere from three to six (or more) hours per day to "enhance" a woman’s shape by tightening her waist and giving the illusion of a curvy bust and thighs. It sounds almost too good to be true, because it is.
When you're looking for fast results and watching all of your favorite A-listers transform with just a single wardrobe change, it's easy to consider donning a waist trainer for yourself. But the truth is, this body-shaping magic trick is nothing more than an illusion — and an unhealthy one at that. Here's what experts have to say about waist trainers. Fair warning: It's nothing good.
1. Waist Trainers Can Make Exercising A Lot More Challenging, And Not In A Good Way
It's one thing to add weights into your cardio routine, or challenge your strength by adding more reps. Wearing something as restrictive as a waist trainer, though, is essentially a recipe for injury or health complications.
In my research, I came across the waist trainer brand Hourglass Gal's FAQ page, which claims that wearing latex trainers during workouts can encourage you to work harder and perspire more. But the page also warns that the trainer should be taken off if exercise becomes too rigorous, or if you experience trouble breathing.
Fitness expert, writer, and physical trainer Jen Jewell puts this concept in perspective for us. She tells Elite Daily,
Think of it this way: We already know that wearing waist trainers creates massive discomfort, and now you want to go ahead and wear this while at the squat rack, doing burpees or, perhaps worse yet, while doing an ab workout? Yikes!
Your abs/core are helping you throughout each and every one of these moves, but if you do these while wearing a waist trainer, you're not going to be able to properly engage your abs/entire core while exercising. Over time, this could lead to a noticeable decrease in strength in your entire core.
2. Waist Trainers Can Restrict Your Ability To Breathe
Corsets were originally designed to make women look tiny by sucking in their waist. If this sounds painful and potentially problematic, that's because it is.
Garrett Van Auken, master of science, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and certified personal trainer, says waist trainers "may cause difficulty breathing by constricting the rib cage and diaphragm." He tells Elite Daily,
The way I describe it is to have someone really flex their abs and then try to take a deep breath. It's much more difficult.
3. A Waist Trainer Isn't A Realistic Way To Change Your Body
To quote Hailee Steinfeld, "it's OK if you want to change the body that you came in," but you want to do so in a way that's healthy, safe, sustainable, and makes you feel good overall.
The concept behind waist trainers may sound fabulous, but the truth is, the best way to see results is to put in the work, rather than put on a corset for a few hours every day.
Ben Williamson, owner and founder of Crush Fit and the Crush Fitness Centers brand, tells Elite Daily, rather than concerning yourself with figuring out how to use these waist-cinchers, "your body is the one you have to work with."
Prolonged use of these trainers can absolutely help ‘shape’ your body, but you can’t ‘shape’ bones.
[Instead of using a waist trainer,] work on building your back and shoulders, mix in some proper nutrition, and work for the body you desire.
4. Waist Trainers Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Bones And Internal Organs
Waist trainers are not new by any means. Their history dates back thousands of years, when women in the Victorian era used corsets as a tool to appear thinner. But the difference between corsets then and waist trainers now is that we know more about the negative effects they can have on a person's body.
Dr. Matthew Schulman, NYC board certified plastic surgeon, tells Elite Daily,
People should be very careful when waist-training because it works by squeezing the body into what people think is a more 'desirable' shape.
The compression alters the bones, such as the rib cage, and also the internal organs squeezed together in a smaller, intra-abdominal space. This can result in pain, indigestion, and reflux.
You can't honestly tell me it's worth the risk now, can you?
5. Waist Trainers Can Restrict How Much Food You Eat
Balancing your diet and exercise in a way that both supports your well-being and feels best for you is the key to a healthy lifestyle. The more active you are, the more food your body will need to fuel itself through challenging workouts and high-impact activities.
Interestingly enough, many waist trainer brands encourage that their product be used in accordance with a healthy diet and regular exercise. But waist trainers are designed to cinch at the waist, which can lead to an unhealthy, unsafe decrease in the amount of food you eat because you'll feel fuller, faster.
According to Williamson,
Cinchers...crush your stomach to the point where your body will become fuller faster, therefore making you eat less.
Food is fuel, energy, [and] essential for 100 percent of the functions in your body to work properly.
6. Waist Trainers, And Other Similar Quick Fixes, Won't Help You Achieve Long-Term Fitness Goals
Fitness trainer and lifestyle blogger Katie Austin weighs in for us on how waist trainers — in addition to any performance enhancers like supplements and pills — will, essentially, act as only a temporary tool on your fitness journey.
She tells Elite Daily,
I think any 'additive' products to your [fitness] journey can be nonsense. There are no pills, or waist trainers, that will completely satisfy your fitness goals.
And it doesn't take science to realize it's just a combination of eating clean, working out, and having a positive mindset!
Bottom line: There's nothing wrong with setting goals for the body you want to have. Every body is beautiful, no matter its shape or form, and every single one deserves to be treated with love, respect, and healthy habits.