There is a growing trend in the fitness community of utilizing waist cinchers to help women obtain the hourglass figure that is often desired on stage. I first heard of this trend when I was talking to a fellow competitor who told me that her team promotes waist cincher training for all of their bikini competitors. At the time, I was unaware that such a method of training existed, so I decided to investigate further.
Cinchers became popular in the 1920’s and began as a fashion craze worn on top of women’s clothing. It was not until later that women started wearing them as undergarments to change the appearance of their waistlines. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of women in the fitness industry who have been using them in their fitness regimes and posting videos and selfies of themselves training in them. So what are the pros and cons to waist cinchers and are they safe?
The waist cincher has been used to shrink waistlines for decades. Many women use it under their clothing to create the illusion of a smaller waistline. Some of the companies that manufacture cinchers claim that they compress your core, increase your perspiration, detox the body by releasing toxins and help metabolize abdominal fat. The advocates of waist cinching also claim that it decreases your appetite (because it is so tight), thus helping you lose weight.
Problems do not seem to exist if you plan on wearing the cincher corsets for one or two evenings out. Problems start to arise once it becomes more of a long-term habit. One of the concerns is that corset training can be so tight that it can actually restrict lung expansion. Not only is this concerning, but for women who are training with these corsets in place during their exercise routines, it may produce more risk than actual good since your lungs cannot function as needed. Cincher corsets have also been found to restrict your bowels leading to constipation, while also compressing your ribs and organs.
The Try Out
So, I decided to check it out for myself. I went to a local retailer in Toronto and got fitted for a cincher corset. All I know is, it was 4-6 inches smaller than my actual waist and I felt like I was suffocating. The owner squeezed me into it and I felt like I could not breathe. I remember thinking, “this is the crazy stuff us women do to look shapely…geez”. So I purchased the cincher and brought it home. I was told I needed to wear it for about 6-8 hours for about 4-8 weeks in order to see a change. The owner of the company told me I could even exercise with it on. Yeah right, that was not happening (my workouts are uncomfortable enough).
The corset was made of latex and had these really annoying bones along the sides of the ribs. The cincher itself was not so bad to wear. It was the bones digging into my sides and the latex smell that bothered me. Needless to say, I wore it. It was so tight that I often felt like I was going to pass out! After using it for a couple of weeks, I did notice I had abdominal perspiration whenever I wore the corset but I gave up after about 2 weeks. I did not see it being worth the discomfort and thought about the long-term effects which helped make the decision to stop wearing the cincher corset. My background in nursing made me think about what I could be doing to my body and it did not seem like the best choice for me.
Having said all that, there are many women who have had success with waist training, and some have lost inches from their waistlines. In the end however, there is not enough evidence out there for me to justify putting my body through that discomfort for a few inches. I would much rather wait to see the research and results that arise on this topic and then decide if I want to squeeze myself into waist training!