By Jessica Feagin, Intern and UAB Community Health and Human Services Student
A waist trainer is designed to pull a person’s midsection tightly to give that sleek waist and hourglass figure. Sometimes wearing a waist trainer can cause weight loss by a person feeling as though they have a decrease in appetite due to the compression and sweating, not loss of body fat. In addition, improved posture may temporarily result while wearing a waist trainer, but wearing it too much can weaken your core muscles and cause poor posture and back pain (Fletcher, n.d.).
Aside from waist trainers’ benefits and impacts, they pose serious health risks. For example, wearing a waist trainer can cause difficulty breathing. Additionally, a study that was performed in 2018 reported that the maximum voluntary ventilation (how much air you can inhale and exhale in one minute) decreases while wearing a waist trainer (“Effect of waist trainers on breathing,” 2018). Wearing a waist trainer makes it harder for your body to get all the oxygen it needs, which is not safe, especially if you wear it during physical activity. Wearing a waist trainer may also cause nerve damage by compressing the nerve that runs down from the groin. Waist trainers compress your stomach, so it can cause some gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn and acid reflux and cause you to eat less. Wearing a waist trainer pushes your organs in your midsection, which may shift positions or experience reduced blood flow, which can affect organ function (Vandergriendt, n.d.).
Dr. Wakim-Fleming from a Cleveland Clinic advises that it is OK to wear a waist trainer for a day to an event or if you want to wear it with a tight-fitting dress, but wearing a waist trainer consecutively day and night can become dangerous. This doctor’s rule of thumb is not to wear them overnight and not to wear them for multiple days in a row, but using them for special occasions for a couple of hours a day is acceptable (Cleveland Clinic, 2023).
I like to wear my waist trainers occasionally to get the hourglass look I am going for, as other ladies do. However, we must listen to our bodies while wearing a waist trainer. If you’re experiencing difficulty breathing, swelling in your lower extremities, food regurgitation after eating, or increased acid reflux…take it off IMMEDIATELY!
The effect of waist trainers on breathing. (2018, October 1). American Association for Respiratory Care. https://rc.rcjournal.com/content/63/Suppl_10/3012838.short
Fletcher, J. (n.d.). Do waist trainers work?: Benefits and risks. Medical and health information. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/do-waist-trainers-work
Vandergriendt, C. (n.d.). Are waist trainers dangerous? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/are-waist-trainers-dangerous
Waist trainers: What you should know. (2023, March 6). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-waist-trainers-work/