When Kim Kardashian was seen wearing a corset showing off her tiny waist on Instagram, it duly became a “fitness” craze that many people were talking about.
Waist-shaping corsets aren’t new – in fact, tightlacing (also known as corset training) was quite common in the late Victorian era and came into existence in around 16th century.
But when TV royalty Kim K was seen wearing a modern-day latex version to shape her post-baby waist, we wanted to know more.
Soon other celebs like sisters Kourtney and Kim, Jersey Shore’s J-Woww and Snooki, Luisa Zissman and Danielle Lloyd were posting pictures of their tightly-cinched waists to kickstart this latest body-shaping movement and we took notice.
But what exactly is waist training and how does it work? Here’s everything you need to know.
1. It makes you look slim at the waist
Yes, it does have that instant effect – put a corset around your waist and bingo! It looks smaller, taut and tiny.
But there’s also an undeniable psychological effect that comes with waist cinching.
“Waist training can serve as a constant reminder of your present shape, aiding a sense of restriction which can motivate individuals to diet,” says Dr Galyna Selezneva, an aesthetic medical doctor at Dr Rita Rakus, a cosmetic clinic in London. “It’s non-invasive, and can be worn at intervals throughout the day.”
2. It might lead to temporary weight loss
“Some people find that during workouts waist training can increase body temperature, causing you to sweat more and this might temporarily show up as weight loss,” says Dr Galyna.
“But you must also be aware that this is just a temporary solution – it will work when you’re wearing it together with a supporting lifestyle to help you to achieve the figure you desire – with some level of discomfort.”
3. But doesn’t get rid of body fat in the long run
“The problem is that waist training only makes you look slimmer while you are wearing the corset,” says Peter Lemon, an expert personal trainer and founder of The Academy of Fitness Professionals.
“Once you take it off, your body will soon revert back to its normal shape.
“This is because wearing a corset will have no effect on the amount of body fat that you have. In order to get long-term results from waist training, you would need to wear the corset all the time.”
4. It can cause your organs to shift with potentially dangerous consequences
“With waist training, the upper organs move upwards, and the lower organs shift downwards,” says Dr Galyna. “This can then put a similar pressure on the abdomen – which has been known to cause constipation.
“A shift in the pressure on your internal organs means you will be less tolerant of certain foods, including gas-producing and fatty foods, and some individuals might find that normal portion sizes are too much.
“All of this can also increase the chances of heartburn as your stomach shifts up beyond your diaphragm causing acid reflux.”
5. It can cause dehydration
“You might see an increase in body temperature and excessive sweating whilst ‘waist training’ during exercise, which can cause dehydration,” says Dr Galyna.
“To minimise any symptoms, we would advise people to stay fully hydrated.”
6. It can affect your back muscles
Prolonged waist training means your abdominal muscles aren’t as active, even if you are exercising regularly.
“Corset training has the potential to cause a weakening of the back and abdominal muscles, as you are not relying on using these muscles for posture when wearing the corset,” adds Dr Galyna.
“The corset provides the support, not the muscles, and if the muscles are not used they will waste.”
7. It can affect your breathing
“Tightness and repeated use of your waist trainer can cause cramps, discomfort and pinching if it is too tight,” says Dr Galyna. “This restriction and tightness around the waist could interfere with the appearance and general health of your skin.
“The quality and depth of your breathing, particularly if wearing your ‘waist trainer’ while exercising, is also impacted.”
8. Don’t use it if you are still growing
“One of the risks is that young girls will be easily influenced by this trend, particularly as it is endorsed by celebrities,” says Dr Galyna.
“If started at a young age before the body and muscles have fully developed, waist training could have potentially permanent health risks for young people.
“It is absolutely not advisable to start waist training while you are still growing into an adult.”
9. There can be other health issues
“Waist training can have some serious health risks due to compression – such as skin infections, pulmonary problems, kidney issues and lung issues,” says Lemon. “Not to mention the fact that it can be extremely painful.
“Even the manufacturers of the corsets advise that people wear them for a short time only, due to the risks involved.”
10. Experts don’t recommend it
“Generally, the medical community does not support the use of waist training as there isn’t sufficient support for the benefits and too many risks,” says Dr Galyna.
“If you’re going to try waist training be aware of the many risks involved.
“I would not recommend waist training if you’re looking to achieve long term happiness. There are many long term solutions which are non-invasive and safe to use.”
11. It can be addictive
It’s not just the health issues, apparently, you can really get addicted to seeing your waist look tiny.
“There is anecdotal evidence wearing a corset can be addictive to those people with an obsessive personality,” says Lemon.
And if you still want to go ahead with wearing a corset…
1. Wear them for very short periods of time.
2. Avoid exercising wearing a corset as it may interfere with your breathing.
3. Don’t over-tighten.
4. Don’t wear it at all if your body is still developing.
5. Make sure you stay regularly hydrated if you are involved in physical activity that causes you to sweat.
6. Don’t use it as a substitute to healthy-eating and exercise.