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Waist training refers to people wearing a tight-fitting support garment that instantly squeezes the waist into a sleeker, smaller hourglass version. Should you wear a corset-type waist trainer when running? Considering that this tight-fitting garment, according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (source), can reduce lung capacity by 30-60 percent, the instant answer should be a definite no!
Running in a waist trainer can lead to pressure on your organs, blood clots, lack of air (lack of energy), decreased blood circulation, dehydration, a weakened core, and even meralgia paraesthetica (nerve damage). Running in a waist trimmer/athletic trainer has many of the same downsides.
Waist training has made a spectacular return to fashion by celebrities endorsing its use and results. Kim Kardashian posting pictures of herself wearing these waist trainers on her social media platforms had women running to get their garments–however, there has been no medical endorsement.
Is It Safe To Run With A Waist Trainer On?
Waist trainer corsets are not safe to use, especially during intense exercise such as running because they are anaerobic and associated with severe medical problems, including deep vein thrombosis (source), or in other words blood clots in the lower parts of your body.
Let us examine some of the disadvantages associated with extended use of a regular corset-like waist trainer and base our answer on them:
1) Places Pressure On Your Organs
Squeezing your midsection tightly and for long periods forces organs like your kidneys and liver into unnatural positions. This overcrowding of organs can lead to permanent damage, reduced muscle strength, and even fractured ribs.
Constant compression on the digestive organs could result in acid reflux, as well as problems with indigestion. Compression on your bladder can lead to difficulty urinating or a feeling of a constant need to go to the toilet, as your bladder never really gets the chance to empty due to the pressure exerted on it. (source)
2) Lack Of Air (Lack Of Energy)
Compression on the ribs will leave you short of breath as it can prevent you from taking deep breaths. Compression of any kind can be sore and painful. Waist trainers can reduce your air intake (deep breaths) by 30-60%, making some of these garments unfit to run in.
Youngstown State University performed a small test on a group of women. They put the test group through some breathing exercises with a waist trainer and without. The results indicated that the women’s maximum voluntary ventilation dropped from 77.3 L/s to 68.8 L/s when wearing a waist trainer. (source)
Physical exercise like running requires more, not less!
3) Decrease Blood Circulation
As the organs are being pushed around, it affects the blood flow, resulting in decreased blood circulation. Everyone knows that it is a recipe for disaster, as it could affect how the organs function and lead to permanent damage.
This case study is of a woman who wore a waist trainer and developed blood clots in her lower body due to wearing a waist trainer.
The wearing of a waist trainer will increase your core temperature, making you sweat more, burning your water weight, and this weight loss is only temporary. Excessive sweating can lead to dehydration when you are not refilling your body with water constantly, especially when running on a hot day. The weight loss gains are just too small to justify running with a waist trainer.
5) Weakened Core
The wearing of waist trainers has a negative effect on your core muscles. Since they offer support that would usually come from your core muscles, they could weaken if you do not specifically train them. Wearing a waist trainer for long periods can lead to muscle atrophy. (source)
A weakened core could lead to back pain and poor posture. It is the same principle of wearing shoes the whole time, which leads to our foot muscles weakening as they are supported. Barefoot running forces our feet to balance our bodies and build up strength in the process. See our article about barefoot running, here.
6) Meralgia Paraesthetica
The constant wearing of tight clothing, especially weight trainers, may lead to nerve damage. The tingling, burning, and numbing of the outer thigh happens when the nerve running down from the groin is compressed, often referred to as meralgia paraesthetica.
Meralgia paraesthetica has been associated with corset wearing as early as the 1900s. While removing the waist trainer to relieve the symptoms should generally work, there have been more severe instances where medication, or even surgery, was required to correct.
This study discusses how tight clothing, belts (which a waist trainer is essentially both of those), or other constrictors can contribute to this condition.
What Type Of Waist Trainers Are Safer To Run In?
As mentioned earlier in the article, waist training is the constant wearing of a tight-fitting garment to “teach” your body into a specific shape, usually the much sought-after hourglass look. Stiff waist trainers are not safe to run in and should be avoided even for regular use.
Luckily there is an athletic version of these wait trainers called athletic trainers or simply waist trimmers. These trainers/belts are made from neoprene, latex, and stretchy poly-fiber fabrics. These are usually unboned belts meant to provide extra support to your body when working out. These belts are not designed to force your body into a preferred shape and are not nearly as tight and constrictive as the regular weight trainers.
Are Waist Trimmers Safe For Running?
Waist trimmers are not safe for running because they can cause excessive sweating, discourage blood flow (oxygen transportation), and interrupt the development of supportive core muscles.
Furthermore, at the time of this writing, there are no definitive studies promoting the use of waist trimmers as an effective waist loss or body-sculpting tool.
Although waist trimmers/athletic trainers do not train your waist or shape your body, there are still some of the same downsides as there are in waist trainers:
- Higher Core Temperatures: Wrapping a constrictive piece of fabric around your waist will make you sweat more which leads to water weight loss, and contribute to having a slimmer appearance, although it’s only temporary (exercising your core is recommended for more permanent weight loss).
- Any constriction of your torso can lead to less oxygen in your blood. Remember, your torso is the channel in which the blood from your heart and lungs passed through to every part of your body.
- Waist trimmers are advertised as back support, but wearing a device for back support should only be done from instructions of a qualified physician–your body may adjust to the support device making your core even weaker.
That being said, waist trimmers are often used to modify appearances slightly. Since the pressure is not as great as a full-on waist trainer, the risk is smaller. Just know that delivering less oxygen to your blood is never what you want while you’re running.
What Is a Waist Trainer
Generally speaking, a waist trainer is an undergarment made out of thick fabric and occasionally includes stiff metal boning. It is typically worn around a person’s midsection, clinched up with a lacing system, with Velcro, or hooks. The garment is designed to be worn as tight as possible as it is intended to change your body shape immediately.
The training part involves wearing this tight-fitting garment for multiple hours a day until your body is trained to hold the specific shape. According to the members of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (source), your waist trainer will not drastically change your shape. The effects will not be long-lasting without a proper diet and exercise, with or without the waist trainer.
Waist training, where you alter the shape of your body for hours at a time, has more potential disadvantages than advantages. The use of these corset-like trainers will have a short-lasting effect, as your body has this beautiful ability to return to its natural state when it’s not constantly forced into another.
Running with regular waist trainers is not healthy at all. The possible small gains don’t justify the use of it when compared to the possible side effects.
A healthy diet and exercise are the only natural way to reduce body fat. Running with or without a waist trimmer or athletic trainer will burn calories. The trimmer and belts will increase your core temperature, which will lead to calories burning off faster. Usually, this weight loss is mostly water weight burnt off, and the effects are temporary.
It is your choice when it comes to waist training; bear in mind what can go wrong before you strap yourself into one.