4 Things to Consider Before You Waist Train

Thinking of giving waist training a try? As with any new fitness trend, it is always important to get all of the facts before you jump in. Here are some of the things you should know.
04/28/2015 11:08 am ET Updated Jun 28, 2015

With celebrities like Kim Kardashian touting the benefits of waist training, the practice has become very popular recently. But does regular use of "waist training" corsets actually help change the shape of a woman's waist? Even more important, is this practice even healthy?

Thinking of giving waist training a try? As with any new fitness trend, it is always important to get all of the facts before you jump in. Here are some of the things you should know.

1. At best, the results are only temporary.

Experts agree that waist training corsets will not alter the shape of the waist in the long-term. Many waist training proponents claim that waist trainers induce sweating when worn during a workout. However, while corsets may help the waist look smaller when worn under clothing, they can't cause your body to lose or redistribute fat. Once you take the corset off, your waist will go back to normal.

2. Waist trainers could actually decrease your core strength.

Many new moms are turning to waist trainers to help tighten up their stomachs after giving birth. While a corset may help to provide support to any loose skin, it can't actually help to tighten your abs, and it won't make your uterus shrink any faster than normal. A corset can help to support the core muscles, but some experts say that too much of the extra support could actually weaken your core muscles. The support from the corset restricts some of the use of the core muscles; if those muscles aren't stimulated, they will lose the strength and tone they once had.

3. It could affect your ability to work out correctly.

Some proponents of waist training also suggest wearing a corset while exercising. They claim that it helps promote sweating and loss of water weight. Not only is a corset unlikely to help you lose water weight while exercising, it can also affect your ability to work out at full capacity. You need to take full, deep breaths when you work out, and wearing a corset could affect your ability to do so because the lungs can't fully expand. Corsets can also restrict certain movements, making it difficult to perform certain moves correctly. These factors combined could affect the effectiveness of your workout. If you're headed to the gym, it's probably best to leave the corset at home-ultimately, a good workout will help you trim your waist more than a waist-training corset will.

4. It could cause health problems.

Perhaps the most important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to try waist training is the possible health risks. It's one thing to try the latest fitness craze and get no results, but it's quite another to have it cause physical damage to your body. As the corset is holding your waistline in, it's also putting pressure on your internal organs. Among the potential health hazards of waist training are acid reflux, rib damage, and bruising. Corsets can also restrict blood flow back to the heart, which could affect your blood pressure and cause dizziness or fainting.

Are all of these risks really worth it, especially when there is no clear medical evidence to support the claims of waist training advocates?

Through my years of studying complex physics and biochemistry, a simple equation remains embedded in my brain: calories in < calories out = weight loss (yes, really).

Disclaimer: I've never waist trained.

Twitter: @gleibermd