Corsets and binders: do they help or hinder?

Reclaim

Is a corset right for me? What if I had my kids years ago?

First things first

Rehabilitating weak, overstretched and separated abdominal muscles to restore core strength and function requires very specific exercises. The daily core exercises and workouts of the EMbody Program™ are proven to resolve diastasis recti (separated abs) and improve core function in less than 12 weeks. The key to recovery is performing these profoundly beneficial exercises correctly and consistently, while also changing how you move, breathe and workout to avoid re-injury. Our Foundational videos cover those topics at length. That said, an external support like a corset can be a valuable tool to speed up the recovery process. If your abdominal muscles have separated (click here for a self-check demo), a corset decreases strain on the overstretched connective tissue. By providing support to that tissue, therapeutic core exercises are more effective and you will see faster results.

Who can benefit from a corset?

Any person who has diastasis recti (separated abdominal muscles) can potentially benefit, even if you had your kids decades ago. However, if you are also suffering from prolapse and/or incontinence, it is probably not a healthy option for you. Keep reading to learn more.

When should I wear it?

Ease your way in by starting with an hour or two at a time, gradually working up to 8-12 hours. Ultimately you will want to wear it as often as possible until you have fully closed your abdominal separation.

To avoid worsening an existing abdominal separation, wear a corset anytime you use a front-loading baby carrier that places the baby’s weight vertically along your midline.

Should I wear a corset while working out?

It is optional (and sweaty) to wear a support garment while performing light workouts. If you feel it helps you better engage your abs, go for it. If you find it more difficult to feel or engage your core while wearing the corset, skip it. Of course ensure you can breathe comfortably when exercising.

Precautionary notes:

Always draw your abs and your pelvic floor “up and in” when putting on a corset. If it has hooks, fasten them from the bottom up.

If you feel any downward/bulging pressure on your pelvic floor at any time while wearing a compression garment, remove it immediately. Downward pressure on the pelvic floor is very unhealthy, and it could contribute to prolapse, pelvic weakness, incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction. Do not attempt to wear a corset again until you have spent at least 2-3 weeks performing daily Core Compressions™ combined with Kegels to strengthen the deep core and pelvic floor. After a few weeks of consistently performing those exercises, you may tentatively try the corset again while paying close attention to your pelvic floor. If you feel any degree of pelvic pressure, set the corset aside until you have strengthened the pelvic floor to the degree that a compression garment exerts no downward pressure on your muscles or organs.

If you had a C-section, wait until the incision has healed and your doctor or midwife says it’s ok.

Do not rely on the corset as a crutch. No garment will do the work for you. Instead, it should serve as a physical reminder to maintain healthy posture, engage your core with every exertion, and help you maximize the healing power of your therapeutic core exercises.

What brands do you recommend?

Many women in our community like Bellefit products, and they offer garments designed specifically for C-section recovery.  Other popular garments include “perfect waist” by Squeem (better suited for long torsos) and waist cinchers by Flakisima (ideal for short torsos).

Final word

Yes, a corset can help support diastasis recti resolution when incorporated as part of a comprehensive strategy that includes safe and effective core conditioning exercises, such as those that serve as the foundation of our EMbody programs. However, full recovery is attainable without external support garments, and they can exert a harmful effect if you feel any downward pressure on the pelvic floor while wearing them. Proceed with caution and listen closely to your body.

By Leah Keller, Founder of the EMbody Program. Learn more about Leah here.

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