Why waist trainers are dangerous for your health — and safer alternatives to help you lose weight

“The core’s natural process of contracting and stretching during physical activity becomes prohibited by the compression and pressure from waist trainers,” says Brandon Nicholas, a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer. “It also causes the diaphragm muscles to slowly degrade and ultimately cause breathing issues in the long run.”

2. Waist trainers cause superficial weight loss 

While waist trainers may provide the appearance of a slimmer physique, any weight loss experienced while using one is temporary, as it’s mostly water weight. 

Water makes up a large part of the human body. But water retention or “bloating” occurs when excess water is stored in the body’s tissue and membranes, oftentimes in the abdomen. Compression garments, like waist trainers, reduce the amount of swelling or bloating by promoting blood flow, but the effect is temporary.

“When the body’s water gets replenished again, that weight will come back,” Nicholas says. “Real weight loss happens when superficial water weight is eliminated and you’ve managed to actually burn fat underneath. This prompts a slimmer physique and toned appearance.”

Additionally, waist trainers can lead to a loss of muscle, causing a lowered metabolism, increased risk of injury, and fatigue. 

“Waist trainers completely support the canister of your midsection known as your core and therefore your muscles do not have to work to actively support you, thereby weakening over time,” Toshkoff says. 

3. Waist trainers increase the risk of prolapse during postpartum 

During pregnancy, the muscles in the abdomen stretch, which can sometimes lead to diastasis recti, a condition where the rectus muscles — two parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen — become separated. Diastasis recti can cause a bulge in the abdomen and can weaken abdominal muscles.

According to Toshkoff, some people use a waist trainer to help bring rectus muscles back together. However, this method doesn’t promote the long-term recovery needed to heal the condition. 

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