Waist trainers are having a moment. Proponents of what are essentially modern corsets claim that waist trainers will reshape bodies, leaving wearers with an hour-glass figure without the core work. Which the trainers will do — as long as the waist trainer is on. However, people are already equipped with a “waist trainer”: It’s called your core. The pelvic floor, glutes, deep spinal stabilizers, abdominals, and diaphragm all work together to create motion and stability through the spine and pelvis. When these muscles are healthy and strong, they create a leaner waist, but also more efficient movement, deep breathing, and good posture.

corset waist trainer

Waist trainers inhibit these muscles and “hurt core function,” says Dr. Sarah Duvall, a physical therapist and the founder of Core Exercise Solutions in Massachusetts. “Muscles have to move to get stronger — they have to lengthen and contract. When you put that waist trainer on, you stop [the core musculature’s] natural lengthening and contracting.” People wear waist trainers to get an hourglass figure, but as they wear the trainer, because it shuts down muscle function, the muscles slowly degrade. “They get weaker over time,” affirms Dr. Duvall. Weaker muscles can’t create a whittled waistline on their own, so the waist trainer creates the opposite body of what the wearer intended.

But waist trainers can cause real problems even more drastic than losing core tone and function. Dr. Duvall describes wearing a waist trainer as squeezing a balloon in the middle: “It’s going to bulge out at the bottom, it’s going to bulge out at the top.” Wearing a waist trainer applies pressure to the pelvic floor, which can lead to prolapse, or (ew) “when your pelvic organs — your uterus, your bladder, your rectum — come into your vaginal canal and then out of it.”

Our rec? Skip the waist trainer and commit to working out. Or just love the body you have — hourglass figure or not.

Let us know what you think about the waist training trend @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)