Waist training involves tightly wrapping your waist and lower ribs with a corset or a fabric wrap to have an hourglass figure. It’s supposed to "train" your curves to, well, stay as curvy and narrow as they can possibly be. The only effort here is apparently not passing out.
This was made popular by Kim Kardashian, as well as other celebrities like Jessica Alba (who wore a double corset day and night for three months), who swears by it.
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Is it dangerous? And does it even work?
Dr. Holly Phillips, the medical contributor of CBS News, says waist training isn’t usually harmful, particularly when done for a short amount of time. If you’re wearing a band or corset for days, weeks, or months, you put yourself at risk of health problems like these:
1. Acid reflux.
Phillips says that your compressed stomach won’t let you be able to take more than a few bites of food. Your system will have difficulty digesting the little food you do eat because of the all pressure on your organs. “You’re compressing your stomach so much that when you take a bite of food, you end up with acid reflux.”
2. Oxygen shortage and even loss of consciousness.
According to Phillips, this happens when you’re wearing a waist trainer for a long time, hence making it hard for you to breathe. You only take more shallow breaths, and that’s not enough for your body to function. The worst case scenario isn’t the loss of consciousness but having fluid in your lungs, putting you at risk of pneumonia.
3. Decreased blood flow in your veins.
Decreased blood flow also means less nutrients and oxygen go to any part of your body, letting waste products stay there. It will also cause problems with blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
4. Kidney or spleen problems.
These are rare cases, which result from over compression that can’t be handled by the organs.
Given these risks, Phillips adds that it’s a myth that we can change our bone structures by waist training. "For women, your bones are formed. You can bruise them and harm them, but you can’t change them." She concludes, "Wearing a corset won’t make you lose fat around your waist."
Dr. Andrew Miller, a plastic surgeon, agrees with Phillips and states that the band doesn’t have any "direct effect on your fat or anatomy. If you stopped wearing a corset, eventually you’re just going to return to the way you were."
But others say another thing about waist training.
Dr. Burton Korelitz, a gastroenterologist, says that it’s safe and it works. "A corset is not going to harm anything. You have my reassurance that in almost 60 years or practice it has never come up as a problem."
Melissa Gentile, a burlesque performer and waist-training coach, certainly thinks waist training can be safe and that it works if certain rules or precautions are followed:
1. Buy a good corset. Corsets are expensive, but it’s a good investment for your health’s sake. What more, you’ll be wearing it for hours, so might as well buy the ones of excellent quality.
Corset designer Jasmine Pagan advises, "Get the cotton corset made with spiral steel bones and a flat steel busk, and avoid corsets in satin, latex, or synthetic fabrics." If you want to do it long-term, you can invest in a custom-made corset that’s perfect for the length of your torso.
2. Compress your torso by tightening the lacing gradually.
You have to start slow, in that the first cinches feel like "a tight hug." Melissa says that if the corset is too tight, loosen it a bit. "The corset shouldn’t be painful but restrictive."
3. Listen to your body.
Corsets should be worn at least eight hours a day to refine the silhouette. Sounds hard to meet? What other people do is that they train and put their corsets on when they sleep. But not everybody can handle this. Melissa advises, "Do only what you can, but try longer the next day."
Disciplined and correct application will make the waistline smaller up to 15 percent in the first two months.