With the New Year upon us, everyone is going to be looking for the newest & as is usually the case, easiest way to lose weight in 2015. The newest obsession and quick fix that will be hitting the mainstream is waist training.

Waist training is going to be the new “it” thing, partly in thanks to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and her obsession with waist cinchers. In fact, if you take a look at Instagram, the #waisttraining is up over 300k posts with #corsettraining a close second at over 50k posts.

Why is that? Is it because it’s the newest “magic pill” with a celebrity endorsement or does it really work? Chris Cooper, BA, NSCA-CPT, LMT takes a look at the benefits and risks of waist training.

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What is it?

Waist training is essentially that. It’s the concept that constricting your core for hours at a time with a corset, cincher or “shape-wear “, in hopes to eventually gain a smaller and slimmer midsection.

Does it Work?

Answering this question depends on what your definition of “work” is. To determine efficacy, we have to take a look at what the company selling these waist cinchers claim they do.

Claims range from losing inches along your waist, release toxins, increase the amount that you sweat, metabolize and lose fat. There is no physiological basis behind any of the claims that they make.

Their claims of losing fat and losing inches stand behind the long held myth of spot reduction. Any alteration that is made to your body from wearing these garments is purely temporary. As soon as you take it off, your shape will return to what it was.

The claim that it will make you sweat and that causes weight loss comes from the myth that sweating leads to permanent weight loss. Just ask any fighter or wrestler that has had to cut weight for a match. It’s purely water loss, not fat loss.

The Risks

The risks of waist training far outweigh the remote benefits that may be associated with it. And even those potential benefits that are claimed are a stretch.

The first on the list would be the potential atrophying of the musculature around the waist, and because of this, a decrease in the strength of core muscles.

Why does this happen? Most likely it’s because the corset or waist trainer helps keep your posture without your muscles having to fire to do so.

The longer you wear it, the less your muscles have to work in order to maintain posture. Over time, this will signal your those muscles that they don’t need to engage.

Less engagement, less strength, and eventually atrophy.

What’s worse is the potential for the shape of the ribs to be altered. As much as we think bone isn’t a living structure, bone cells are always dying and regenerating, therefore it’ll adapt to stresses you put on it.

If you keep them compressed via use of a waist trainer, what you are signaling is that the ribs should compress and adapt to that new shape.

So in that sense, the benefit of losing inches that is claimed could technically be true, but at what cost?

The ribs are there to protect vital internal organs, so what would happen internally with an altered rib cage? One of the most important organs behind the ribs are the lungs.

With an altered ribcage shape, the ability of the lungs to expand would dramatically decrease. If the lungs cannot inflate to their full potential, breathing patterns get thrown off, nor can you get a full intake of oxygen.

Besides our lungs, what else needs oxygen? Our brains! Our brain can only go less than 5 minutes with depleted oxygen supply before cerebral hypoxia sets in.

This causes brain damage or death. Still think waist training is worth the risk?

Other organs that can have the potential to be damaged by continuous waist training include the kidneys and intestines. Your kidneys act as a filter for your body.

In one day the kidneys will eliminate 2 quarts of waste from filtering around 200 quarts of blood which then becomes urine and is excreted from the body.

Kim Kardashian waist training obsession_1

However, when a corset is worn, these two tiny organs are compressed and thus rendered inefficient. Think of them as a sponge, when you squeeze or compress a sponge it will not be able to absorb liquid. So to with the kidneys, they need to have the proper room to be able to function properly.

Under compression for hours a day the kidneys are unable to eliminate the waste from our system and so it remains in our body.

When the core is constricted, one has to give thought as to where we are getting this decrease in inches from. Unfortunately it is the internal organs that suffer.

Our intestines together total twenty five feet in length. The human body has a particular way of organizing not only all of the organs but especially the intestines. With the corset or waist trainer tightened around the midsection, the organs now shift and things are displaced.

The intestines are vital to the gastrointestinal tract for digestion. They not only digest but then extract needed nutrients to the bloodstream. When they are displaced, twisted, and restricted, the intestines can no longer function optimally.

Thus, inhibiting their ability to give the body what it needs and eliminate what the body must get rid of. With this restriction on the intestines for hours a day our body it causes a serious lack in proper nutrition as well as a buildup of waste in the body.

Now all of this is just while wearing it. Throw exercise into the equation while wearing it and you create more danger for your body.

Doing core exercises is thrown off because you can’t properly engage the musculature and the corset ends up doing most, if not all of the work. In addition, with the lungs constricted, you’d be out of breath in no time.

This is not necessarily from the exercise itself, but from the shear fact you are cutting off your oxygen supply.

Takeaway

We go to great lengths to find the quickest and easiest way to get results, to find that one “magic pill” that will make our lives easier and/or better. But if there is no physiological reason as to why something will work, then it’s most likely a gimmick that won’t have long lasting results.

We are always in search of that one thing that will help our aesthetics without analyzing whether or not it’s actually healthy for us.

Yes, we are a society that bases a lot on appearance and less on what will make us healthier, but what if instead of wasting the time and energy we spend on gimmicks like waist training, we focused on solid exercise and nutrition programs. We’d have a much healthier society as a whole.

Lastly, your shape is largely going to be determined by your genetics. We as humans come in all shapes and sizes.

If you’re not genetically designed to have an hourglass shape, why force the issue using something like a waist trainer? Your bone structure is your structure for a reason. Be happy with who you are and what your shape is.

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