Hourglass syndrome (HS) hit the spotlight recently when body-positive influencer and Tik Toker Nikki Garza admitted she suffers from the condition.
In an article in the New York Post, Garza suggested that her mother first sparked the habit of holding her belly tight at age eight by suggesting she “suck in her stomach in” – a comment you may be familiar with.
The act of tensing the stomach muscles pulls in your mid-region to make the waist appear smaller, giving your body an hourglass shape, hence the syndrome’s name.
But what is hourglass syndrome? And, more importantly, what causes it, and what are the side effects? Let’s look and see.
What is hourglass syndrome and why does it happen?
Hourglass syndrome, often called “stomach gripping syndrome”, is caused by trying to ‘suck in’ your stomach to make it appear flatter. It is a common condition in those with body image concerns and is most frequently found in adolescents.
Typically, people develop the syndrome to appear slimmer. They choose to contract their stomach muscles over long periods to create the illusion of a slimmer silhouette, rather than adopting healthy weight loss and diet regimes like intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a structured diet regime that medical professionals and Hollywood celebrities endorse. To discover the benefits of intermittent fasting for yourself, get Fasting Kompanion.
Other causes of stomach gripping syndrome include poor posture or abdominal pain, which can cause you to hold your belly in due to pain and discomfort.
Side effects of stomach gripping
Hourglass syndrome may first appear harmless – after all, holding your belly tight doesn’t hurt and makes your stomach appear flatter. However, although the condition is not deadly, sucking in the stomach can become habitual and result in side effects or even eating disorders if left untreated. Common side effects include:
- Shallow breathing, as your diaphragm cannot expand fully to catch a deep, healthy breath.
- Lower back pain because the diaphragm stabilizes your back, and the muscles in this area must work harder to compensate for the breathing dysfunction.
- Headaches may result as traditionally normal breaths are taken and expand your lower abdomen, but if you suffer from HS, this doesn’t occur. This puts your neck and upper body under more stress, which can cause headaches.
- Acid reflux or GERD is common in those with HS because the decrease in the diaphragm action caused by holding your belly in means there is less to stop stomach contents from rising in the esophagus.
- Pelvic floor dysfunction is a concerning side effect, as reported in the Washington Post. Constantly tightening your stomach puts pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and can overwhelm them. A tight pelvic floor can lead to urinary incontinence and even painful intercourse.
Is hourglass syndrome permanent, and how do you know if you have it?
Chances are you already know if you suffer from stomach gripping, as the condition has probably developed over many years.
Classic hourglass syndrome symptoms include tight and defined upper abdominal muscles and a dimpled, soft lower set of abs and stomach, usually with a crease at the base of the ribs. These symptoms can be easily seen in the mirror – but don’t worry if you spot them; you can fix these unsightly bumps, and they should fade over time if you stop sucking your stomach in.
How to fix hourglass syndrome
If you believe you may be suffering from stomach gripping syndrome and are searching for an hourglass stomach fix, it is far better to exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet to achieve a flatter belly.
Last Updated on August 31, 2023