Waist training is the process of progressively tightening the corset over a period of weeks and months to pull in the floating ribs and even do a bit of rearranging of internal organs to achieve a smaller waist. Waist training goes back as far as the 1500s, but most commonly it’s remembered from the fashionable European and American women in the 1800s and early 1900s. In fact, corsets were one of the first mass-produced fashion garments for women.
In the last few years, waist trainers have risen to popularity, in large part thanks to the celebrities who talk about wearing them and TV shows like the Netflix series Bridgerton. As with anything trendy (think handheld teeth whiteners or weight loss gummy bears), it’s incredibly important to make sure that you do your research before you hop on the trend train!
Here at Orchard Corset HQ, we have a unique position and perspective on waist training. We’ve sold thousands of corsets and cinchers over the last 20 years, and have the benefit of feedback from hundreds of customers about what their journey into waist training looked and felt like.
So today, we’d like to talk to you a little bit about whether or not waist training is safe! Hopefully we’ll clear up any misinformation or misconceptions about the practice, and give you a bit more information before you decide whether or not you’d like this for yourself.
Waist training in a steel boned corset will NOT modify your hips in any way. Your hip bones are going to stay put. But that’s not the case with your two bottom ribs. Those ribs are your floating ribs and if you are wearing a corset that comes up high enough to cover the lower ribs, through patience and diligence in your waist training, those two ribs can be pulled in along with your waist to give you an hourglass shape. (Related: See waist training before and after examples.)
Keep in mind though, that for the most part, the body modification you are making with your waist training is not permanent and you will need to continue with some maintenance corseting or those ribs will float right back to where they started!
If you decide to proceed from here, you can make the waist training process safer and more comfortable by following some basic rules.
The short answer is: Yes! The slightly longer answer is: as long as you practice what we at OC call “safe and sane” waist training practices, corseting and waist training is perfectly safe. Waist training only cinches in the two lower floating ribs of your body, which are intended to move anyway.
As long as you don’t go for extreme waist reductions like Ethel Granger or Cathie Jung, you shouldn’t have any adverse effects from waist training.
Corsets worn for long periods of time and cinched very tightly can and often will redistribute organs (kidneys, liver, intestines) as seen in this MRI. It is important to note, however, that pregnancy has a similar effect on a woman’s internal organs.
If the corset is too small or overtightened, then the compression on your digestive tract can cause reflux. If that happens, then you can loosen or take off the corset around meal times. Listen to your body and you will figure out what works best.
Absolutely not! Corsets are supposed to feel like a tight hug. Any kind of pain either indicates a poor fit or operator error. You shouldn’t feel any back pain if you are using a corset with a realistic waist reduction and that is evenly tightened.
Because corsets compress your torso and reduce your lung capacity, your lungs compensate by taking more frequent and deeper breaths. Note that this is usually more obvious with overbust corsets which cover the breasts. As long as you don’t do any strenuous cardio in a corset (which is not recommended anyway), you might not notice the effect on your breath.