Waist trainers: What happens when you uncinch? – Harvard Health

You may have noticed the cropped hourglass waists among women wearing the celebrity trend of the moment: so-called waist trainers. This tummy tuck girdle evokes images of button-up corsets and overly-tight girdles from a grim past. But does it live up to expectations?

Flashy ads suggest that these compression devices can help you selectively sculpt inches off your waist by wearing them during workouts or as part of daily routines. But the claims largely fall short of the evidence, says Michael Clem, a physical therapist with the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

“People want the quick fix,” says Clem. “Putting something around our waist seems easy: we do it every day with pants and belts. What’s one more thing? Diet and exercise take longer and require more drastic changes in habits. We all know what we must do, but we don’t know.” want to do it.”

Debunking the hourglass hype

Clem debunks four common claims about waist trainers and points to a case where they can help.

  • Spot-reduce fat: Compressing fat with a waist trainer and expecting it to stay in place once you unzip the girdles is a flawed concept. “Fat is a systemic deposit,” says Clem. “Putting something around your waist can’t help you burn fat there.”
  • Sweat the inches: Similarly, sweating more profusely in one area of ​​the body, in this case under the waist trainer, will not melt fat there. “Sweat is a cooling mechanism for the body. We expend calories when we sweat, but we can’t say that those calories will come from the area where we sweat,” says Clem.
  • Eat less due to belly compression: While braces or compression sleeves can increase awareness of a body part, leading wearers to act differently, the same probably can’t be said for a thick band around the belly. Our awareness of the internal organs is not that strong, says Clem. And although waist trainers put pressure on the abdomen, they probably wouldn’t alter the body’s feeling of fullness.
  • Build a stronger core: Wearing a waist trainer could help if a doctor recommends temporary use after certain surgeries, such as when someone is rebuilding core muscles after a C-section, hernia surgery, or appendectomy, by offering tangible “feedback” on the use of abdominal muscles as the person recovers. “But there are much better ways to teach someone to feel their core,” Clem says, including working with a physical therapist on posture and breathing.
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In most cases, there’s probably no harm in trying one of the shape-shifting devices, although pregnant women shouldn’t use them. And if you have any health issues, it’s best to talk to your doctor about whether compressing your core could have any negative effects, including an inability to breathe deeply and comfortably.

Do you want to shape your waist? Try Core Strengthening Exercises

Listed from least to most challenging, here are three great exercises to strengthen the core muscles that help define your waist. Start with one set and work your way up, paying attention to your form.

Bridge


photo of a person doing the bridge exercise, showing the starting position


photo of a person performing the bridge exercise, showing the movement


photo of a person doing the bridge exercise, showing how to make it more difficult

Representatives: 10
Sets: 1–3
Tempo: 3–1–3
Rest: 30–90 seconds between sets

Initial position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your arms at your sides. Relax your shoulders against the ground.

Movement: Squeeze your glutes, then lift your hips off the floor until they form a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Hold. Go back to the starting position.

Tips and Techniques:

  • Squeeze your glutes before lifting.
  • Keep your shoulders, hips, knees, and feet in even alignment.
  • Keep your shoulders down and relaxed on the floor.

Opposite arm and leg raises


photo of a person performing the opposite arm and leg raises exercise, showing the starting position


photo of a person performing the opposite arm and leg raise exercise, showing the movement


photo of a person performing the opposite arm and leg raise exercise, showing how to make it more difficult

Representatives: 10
Sets: 1–3
Tempo: 3–1–3
Rest: 30–90 seconds between sets

Initial position: Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly in line under your shoulders and hips. Keep your head and spine neutral.

Movement: Extend your left leg off the ground behind you as you stretch your right arm out in front of you. Keeping your hips and shoulders straight, try to bring your leg and arm parallel to the ground. Hold. Return to the starting position, then repeat with your right leg and left arm. This is a repeat.

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Tips and Techniques:

  • Keep your shoulders and hips square to maintain alignment at all times.
  • Keep your head and spine neutral.
  • Think of pulling your hand and leg in opposite directions, lengthening your torso.

Stationary
Thrust

photo of a person performing the stationary lunge exercise, showing the starting position photo of a person performing the stationary lunge exercise, showing the movement

Representatives: 8-12 on each side
Sets: 1-3
Tempo: 3-1-3
Rest: 30-90 seconds between sets

Initial position: Stand up straight with your right foot one to two feet in front of your left foot, hands on your hips. Shift your weight forward and lift your left heel off the floor.

Movement: Bend your knees and lower your torso down until your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold, then return to starting position. Finish all reps, then repeat with your left foot forward. This completes a set.

Tips and Techniques:

  • Keep your front knee directly over your ankle.
  • In the lunge position, the shoulder, hip, and back knee should be aligned. Don’t lean forward or backward.
  • Keep your spine neutral and your shoulders down and back.

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