If you’re a gym goer, or follow ‘gymfluencers’ on Instagram, you’ve probably come across people wearing waist trainers whilst working out. You may even wear them yourself on occasion.
The main appeal of wearing a waist trainer to the gym is appearing shapely and sporting the hourglass that oh so many women would take out their ribs for (quite literally).
Waist trainers > corsets
Having a small waist has been a beauty standard imposed on women for a long time, so much so that corsets have evolved into waist trainers, and both are currently in popular demand.
Waist trainers embody the spirit of what you could class as a modern-day corset. The same way Victorians would lace themselves up and tot around in their corsets and petticoats, people are now in their everyday life. So what if Victorian women couldn’t breathe? So what if they laced up their corsets so tightly that fainting couches were normal? They felt great – right?
Following the success of Netflix’s Bridgerton, a boom in corset sales increased dramatically in 2020 (Orchard Corsets reported to their website). Social media, particularly Tiktok, has also elevated this popularity through trends such as the corset challenge. This consists of women holding their unlaced corsets and lip syncing to the lyrics in Haus of Haubern, a song in Six, the musical:
“You bring the corsets we’ll bring the sinchers, no-one wants a waist over 9 inches”
After which they proceed to pull their corsets tight, revealing the shape of their waist. The majority of women partaking in this trend often have very small waists (shock - we never would’ve seen that coming).
This virality isn’t just limited to corsets; another viral phenomenon that has taken over Tiktok is people working out in waist trainers. One viral trend in particular includes women taking off their waist trainers after a workout to reveal the accumulated sweat lost (personally this one is lost on me,
but then again that infers that there’s any kind of sense behind viral trends – psst. There isn’t).
So, let’s take a dive into expelling waist trainer myths and revealing the truth about this practice.
Waist Trainers Restrict Movement
When exercising, it’s important that you dress in a comfortable way that doesn’t restrict movement. In fact, even wearing too tight workout clothes can be detrimental.
David Wiener, training specialist, says “wearing clothes that are too tight around the hip and waist area can lead to pain at the hip joints and also cause spine or circulation issues. To avoid these problems, make sure you have a range of motion in the clothes you choose and that you don’t feel too restricted” .
Waist trainers can be detrimental to the body when worn for long periods of time. This is not just because they’re tight, but the shape by design means they’re restrictive.
“The real issue is the potential damage that intense waist training can have on the body. Some people have larger organs and this may be part of the reason why they have a naturally wider shape. If you compress these organs, you may have some issues.
Compression on the digestive organs may result in indigestion and acid reflux. Compression on the bladder can lead to difficulty urinating and the feeling that you have to constantly urinate, because the bladder is not being completely emptied.
Well, I guess that explains the normalisation of fainting couches.
Waist Trainers Can Dehydrate You
Because of the added compression whilst working out, this encourages more sweat to leave your body during a workout. People who are looking to lose ‘water weight’ often engage in compression methods for added definition (I wouldn’t recommend it though – and neither would the experts).
Whilst this method does rid you of water weight, it’s only temporary, and it’s also dangerous. Because you’re losing so much water in one go, it can lead to dizziness and dehydration.
Whilst waist trainers can change the shape of your waist, only temporary. They also do not aid with weight loss, instead
- Sweating. As already mentioned, wearing a waist trainer makes you lose more water weight
- Squeezing. They compress your midsection
- Shrinking. Interestingly, if you wear a waist trainer consistently, they can cause your core abdominal muscles to shrink, and can even cause muscle atrophy .
When worn in short periods of time, wearing a waist trainer cannot do any of the harm stated in this article. However, it is important to note that wearing a waist trainer cannot change your body and bone structure - and you most definitely do not need to wear one whilst working out.