Can You Wear a Corset If You Have Lung Issues?

Can You Wear a Corset If You Have Lung Issues?

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Stereotypes are often exaggerated, but that doesn’t make them any easier to dispel. Sensationalism sells, after all. Perhaps this is why the notion of women in corsets fainting away at the slightest exertion still exists today, despite the fact that the turn of the century saw women in corsets and bloomers riding bikes and participating in other sporting activities.

This isn’t to say that you necessarily want to run a marathon in your corset, because at the core of any stereotype is a small kernel of truth. When you don a compression garment like a corset, it will limit your ability to expand the ribcage somewhat, but considering women have been wearing corsets for centuries, it seems pretty obvious that they don’t impair breathing significantly.

What if you have common respiratory concerns like allergies, asthma, or COPD? Can you wear a corset if you have lung issues? The answer can be complicated. First and foremost, you should speak to your doctor about how waist training might impact your respiratory condition so you can proceed in a safe manner.

That said, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that lung issues prevent corset wear. Here are a few things you need to know to make an informed decision.

Respiration in a Nutshell

Respiration consists of breathing in and out, during which the lungs expand and contract. However, there’s a little more to it. The lungs don’t necessarily expand outward, so much as downward, and this is because of the diaphragm.

Located around the middle of your torso, just below the lungs, the diaphragm is a band of muscle that rhythmically contracts, or flattens, to create space for the lungs to expand as you draw breath, then relaxes and expands to force air out of the lungs for exhalation.

At the same time, the intercostal muscles, situated between the ribs, can also stretch as you breathe to create space for the lungs to expand. If you take a deep breath, both your chest and your abdomen will expand as the diaphragm and intercostal muscles allow. If you engage in vigorous activity that requires deeper breathing, pectoral (chest), trapezius (shoulder), and lateral (lower back) muscles may also get involved.

Breathing in a Corset

Now that you’re thinking about all the muscles movement involved in drawing breath, you may naturally wonder about how you can breathe in a corset in general, much less how can you wear a corset if you have lung issues. In truth, you should expect some reduction in lung capacity when wearing a corset, although perhaps not as much as you might assume.

A 2018 study on The Effect of Waist Trainers on Breathing found that participants had no significant change in lung function during forced vital capacity (FVC) and slow vital capacity (SVC) tests. There was a notable difference in ventilation during the maximum voluntary ventilation (MVV) test where participants were required to exert force (similar to exercising).

In other words, there was little impact to normal breathing. Granted, the “waist trainers” used in this study were likely cinchers, not steel boned, waist training corsets. However, centuries of wear have shown us that when used safely and appropriately, corsets don’t impact normal daily activities.

So Can You Wear a Corset if You Have Lung Issues?

The answer is a tentative yes, although you will have to decide for yourself. As long as you’re not exerting yourself in a way that results in labored breathing, a corset shouldn’t significantly impact respiration, even if it slightly impacts overall lung capacity. That said, it’s important to understand all the factors that may impact your respiration, including any medical conditions, so you can make an informed decision.

The information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you suffer a respiratory issue and/or you’re concerned about how a corset may affect your breathing, speak with your doctor before waist training or wearing a corset.

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