Usually when I see the Kardashians hustling some “can’t live without it” product, I’m quick to dismiss it as some money-making sham. I’ll have to admit though, when I’ve come across Instagram pics of Kim and Kourtney all Jessica Rabbit-like in their waist trainers, I can’t help but be intrigued. I mean, sure, their midsections look almost freakishly cinched in these corset-like contraptions, but as someone who’s still all mushy since having my twins a few years ago, I can (embarrassingly enough) see the appeal. But I wonder, does waist training actually slim your tummy and waist for good? Is it safe for new moms who want to get back their pre-baby bellies? How much does it cost? To get answers to these questions and more, I reached out to the experts.
What is waist training?
Waist training involves wearing a corset-like piece called a waist trainer for several hours a day. Waist trainers have supportive material that sucks in your abdominal area, from the bottom of your ribs to your lower waist. (You can buy them online for around $25, although the price ranges from $10 all the way to $175, depending on the brand). “The claim is that it promotes thermal activity that triggers fat loss, and that by tightening it, you will actually reshape and slim your body, and lose weight,” says Sheryl A. Ross, MD, a Los Angeles-based ob-gyn and women’s health expert.
Does waist training work?
Well, it depends on your goals. Want to look skinny for a party? Then go ahead and strap in — just don’t plan on eating or drinking for the rest of the night. As far as permanent reshaping or weight loss, experts say that, hell no, waist trainers do not work. “It creates significant compression, but only for the time it’s being worn,” says Dr. Ross. “There has been no medical evidence to support that waist trainers can help you lose weight, slim your belly, or shrink a postpartum uterus.”
Is waist training safe?
If you use a waist trainer as intended then no, not really. Many companies recommend wearing these uncomfortable contraptions for several hours a day in order to see a difference. That kind of extended wear can be dangerous — and again, as Dr. Ross pointed out, waist trainers don’t work. “When the waist trainer is tied up too tightly or for too long, it could cause rib fractures, limit mobility, restrict your abdominal muscles, affect your posture, and inhibit your breathing, causing fainting,” she explains.
Still, if your doctor gives you the okay, you can occasionally use the waist trainer to give you some additional core support (as well as body confidence) for limited periods of time. You need to be able to breathe comfortably though, and if you feel at all restricted, you either need to loosen the trainer, or give it up completely.
Is there a safer way to look slimmer?
Yes, and here’s the thing: It probably already exists in your lingerie drawer. “Spanx, even the cheap kind, will hold in your waist and push up your breasts, giving you a nice shape,” says Donnica Moore, MD, New Jersey-based women’s health expert and president of Sapphire Women’s Health Group. “And it won’t hurt nearly as much as wearing a waist trainer.”
More Health Content for Moms:
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- You’re Teaching Your Toddler Fat Shaming, Says Science