Ask Kos – Should I wear my waist trainer during my workout?


 Akosua Akoto-

…here to give you the facts. You make the decision.

Waist trainers or latex waist cinchers are corset-like contraptions that clinch the core, hips, and back, to give a woman a more hour-glass figure. And since celebrities are wearing them, the world has caught on with little to no research…. or private chefs, personal trainers and plastic surgeons on call. It so happens that the areas of the body targeted by these contraptions are the foundation for posture, alignment, stability and movement- the core.  Contrary to popular belief, your core is not comprised only of the 6 muscles down the front of your tummy that seem to be the mandatory, yet, “sold separately” part of the bikini you are planning to wear this summer. Your core is comprised of 29 muscles including but not limited to

  • the diaphragm– the dome shaped sheet of muscle located below the ribs and above the abdominals, and used voluntarily for inhalation.
  • the transverse abdominis (TVA)– the deepest of the abdominal muscles innervated in the lower ribs and wrapping the spine providing ultimate stability for the back and core. When the TVA contracts to stabilize the spine, the nervous system is given the green light to efficiently recruit muscles for proper form in functional movement.
  • the multifidus– this muscle fills the groves of the vertebrae, preventing degeneration of the joints and allowing the spine to move more efficiently.
  • the pelvic floor– a collection of muscles spanning the bottom of the pelvis and supporting pelvic organs including the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. A strong pelvic floor gives us control of the organs within it, assists in pregnancy and birth, and work with the other muscles of the core to provide stability for the spine.

It is also important to note that, in this area, we have organs such as the small and large intestines, kidneys, liver, and uterus, all placed in accordance with their function.

When we exercise, we are

  • bearing, pushing, and/or pulling additional weight
  • absorbing force and impact
  • increasing heart rate so working muscles can be provided “food” and oxygen needed to perform at a higher rate
  • breathing faster to get more oxygen and release carbon dioxide

Clinching the area which comprises the muscles and organs listed above changes their natural position and compromises their function.  So, let’s go one by one.

Compromising the diaphragm means we are restricting the rate at which we take in and deliver oxygen to the brain and working muscles, which in turn effects how much carbon dioxide we push out of the body. Clinching the TVA compromises the stability of the spine, altering muscular functionality and efficiency in bearing, pushing or pulling additional weight in ANY movement pattern. Prolonged clinching of the TVA misaligns and disfigures the spine. A multifidus under pressure means the spinal column cannot flex, extend or stabilize properly which can lead to back pain. The downward pressure placed on the pelvic floor DURING exercise can cause or worsen incontinence and various issues involved in pregnancy. You have probably guessed that the organs mentioned all contribute to the digestive system…. I’ll leave you to marinate on that. Speaking of digestion, these waist trainers tend to make eating less desirable which is part of the reason for some of these “success stories”.

I always say there is no such thing as a “general body”. So, there can be no such thing as a “general workout” or a “general fitness tip”. So, let your body work in the capacity at which it was meant to work.  Health and Fitness is not an image, an hour in your day, a luxury or punishment. Health and Fitness is your body’s anatomical right. Do not engage in an activity you cannot sustain for the rest of your life. Your body is the only gym you need. Anything else is an assimilation to a culture that enforces a sedentary and thus degenerative lifestyle. What may be more important than the risks involved with waist trainers is the risks involved in trivializing or failing to even SEE ourselves within the structure and unique function of our bodies, and the bodies of every woman in our bloodline.

People know that I am an active person. So before even seeing me, like an Instagram filter placed over my body, they KNOW that under my shirt is a six pack. Let me shatter some glass: NOPE! I am human. I miss workouts, I get bloated, I love food and the women in my family line have 2 choices in body figure: 1. thick with a belly or 2. skinny with no belly. So, depending on the time of the year or phase in my life…. you may never know. But here’s a hint, if my booty looks good, you can bet my belly is also making an appearance. Either way, no visit to the hospital or orthopedist. But that’s the problem with the idea of fitness: there is no room for the actual person meant to fit inside the thin yet shapely, toned but not too toned, hour glass box that doesn’t really consider genetics or ethnicity…. but more about that later.

It seems the very industry intended to save lives through the body, is destroying life through the mind and spirit. So maybe there is a general rule to health and fitness: See, love, and appreciate ALL of yourself first.

Thanks for reading! Check out this link for further research on this week’s Ask Kos question…/pregnancy/pelvic-floor/

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