Why physicians frequently pooh-pooh or allege serious (but false or highly exaggerated) risk from corset waist training

From time to time I ponder why many doctors seem to pooh-pooh corset waist training, or worse yet, obsess about the “serious risk to life and limb” when we decide to pursue this age-old approach to sveltness and good health.

Yes — good health! Corset waist training according to general principles–such as training pursued with common sense, with respect for one’s own bodily messages and individual needs, and with reasonable, genetic- and experience-conscious goals– can address issues such as our burgeoning obesity epidemic.

Yet a number of pop docs (a certain Dr. Oz comes to mind….but he is not alone!) and even long-experienced non-celebrity docs delight in focusing on the risk factors of corset waist training, warning of possible permanent damage to ordinarily otherwise healthy individuals.

But damage to what is never clearly explained, nor is the factual basis of their conclusions revealed to the light of day so that the ordinary, inexperienced corset-curious person can make an informed decision about whether or not corset waist training might be beneficial to them.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about Dr. John Sarno’s program to heal chronic back and neck pain, as well as address many other ailments that don’t have a structural causation (and even some that do!), ailments as diverse as: migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromialgia, allergies, skin problems, hypertension, tendinitis, knee pain, shoulder pain, and other.

If you have ever suffered from any of those problems or if you know someone who has, I particularly commend to you Dr. Sarno’s final book published in 2006, The Divided Mind: The epidemic of mind body disorders.

It is the seminal book on the topic, exploring Dr. Sarno’s theory of “TMS” or tension myositis syndrome involving non-structurally related chronic pain.

In sum, TMS occurs when circumstances trigger painful emotions submerged in our subconscious, that then become expressed in a physical symptom and pain. The pain is real, but it is brain caused.

According to Dr. Sarno, pursuing certain strategies and steps will bring relief from chronic pain to many: that is, (1) simply admit the possibility of a brain-caused chronic pain, and/or (2) bring to consciousness by insight work conducted by yourself or in psychotherapy, some of the negative emotions you may be repressing from childhood, from daily life, or from your personality traits such as perfectionism, need for excessive control, and “do-goodness.”

Late in his life (he passed in 2016 and it was his obituary in the NY Times that first drew my attention), Dr. Sarno suggested another title than TMS for this mind-body problem, and suggested that some popular alternative treatments he had ignored such as meditation could be effective in treating TMS, as well as the main methods he suggested. But his original program and diagnosis of TMS stand as the most familiar ones, and TMS is a shorthand that I will use.

Today I was reading a chapter by Dr. Douglas Hoffman printed in The Divided Mind. Dr. Hoffman has a specialty in nonoperative orthopedics/sports medicine practiced in Duluth, Minnesota. He is the team physician for the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the Duluth Huskies baseball team. It was in his chapter that I was reminded of one reason I have posited in the past, for why pop docs and ordinary physicians get tricked into dissing corset waist training as an obvious strategy for addressing chronic pain as well as the obesity epidemic.

Let’s first review two other principle reasons:

  1.  We already all know about medicine’s tendency, and society’s tendency, to go for the “quick fix.” Social media feeds and exacerbates if not causes, our need for instant gratification and convenience:  “want it now, pop a pill, refuse any personal responsibility, and move on to what is ‘really’ important” — whatever that may be. Go for the surgical fix to obesity:  liposuction, bariatric surgery, nip and tuck, and forget the actual money investment and time needed for recuperation, not to mention the possible side effects and risks of failure necessitating fix-it surgeries and more time lost. Wearing a corset for three months of dedicated, common-sense waist training seems like “too much of an effort”, but surgery is a false “effective” preference that dazzles and bamboozles unthinking patients seeking quick relief.

2.  Same can be said of pill pushing by unthinking doctors and demanding patients. We already know that many major drug companies can be blamed for seeking higher profits thru pill pushing, and thru free samples given to willing doctors who then prescribe the medicine as a preferred treatment, even if alternatives would be cheaper, just as or more effective, and less addicting.

But the third reason, and perhaps the most elusive and important reason that doctors diss corsets, is addressed in Dr. Hoffman’s article:

“For a doctor to ” be able to understand and effectively apply Dr. Sarno’s principles, one must acknowledge their own shadows and painful emotions. Additionally, a physician’s position of authority is compromised with this perspective since patients become empowered by discovering that they have the ability to heal themselves. (p. 315).

If doctors cannot admit to their own repressed or denied negative emotions of anger and fear, then how can they possibly believe that the same in their patients might be the cause of long-standing pain and suffering? How can they suggest to patients and be able to effect recovery merely by the suggestion of same? Dr. Sarno “cured” some 60 percent of his chronic pain patients in this manner after only a few office visits and two two-hour educational presentations to a group of them.

Clueless doctors without personal insight, who cannot admit that some or many patients have an ability to heal themselves, –including with corset waist training — doctors who cannot admit that they are unconsciously feeling professionally threatened as possibly “unneeded” or “ineffective”, are missing the boat and indirectly harming their patients. They are failing to offer an alternative diagnosis for, and truly inexpensive and potentially beneficial strategy to address serious health problems such as obesity, a problem that is growing by leaps and pounds (sic.) around the world.

Who can doubt that it is a good thing when some pursue moderate corset waist training to heal themselves from bad posture, low back pain, overweight, hypertension, and obesity, and to gain a measure of enhanced well-being, sexiness, and increased energy and mobility?

Why not try common-sense, moderate corset waist training (if you are otherwise in generally good health) to see if it increases your zest for life not only now, but in the future as well? A good prospect for success takes only modest resources of about $300-500 to invest in (1) a good custom corset, (2) my detailed $14.95 how-to book or (4) my $400 three month coaching program (includes a copy of both of my books), and/or (5)  consulting responsible, fact-oriented corset educators such as Lucy Williams (see many educational videos on YouTube and on her website) and Heidi of Strait-Laced Dame.

And, by the way, knowing about TMS and following Dr. Sarno’s program since reading his book on Feb. 11 of this year, has helped substantially to restore me back to 99% perfect back and neck health with the virtual disappearance of disabling pain.



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