As part of the series on Splinting for Hypermobility Syndromes, this post will specifically cover corsets.
Before we start I have to say I’m not a medical professional and I’m not a corset expert, this is all from my personal experience and before you take any advice from my blog I’d recommend reading around the subject and speaking to your Dr if you have back problems.
I have suffered with chronic back pain since I was about 14. To start with I had intermittent sharp pains during exercise or when I reached over for something, I distinctly remember leaning over for a pencil in drama class (age 15) and feeling the most horrible pain, like I’d been stabbed.. After an unproductive visit to the Doctors I ended up seeing an osteopath and she spent hours working the knots out of my back and relaxing all the spasmed muscles. Eventually it was decided that my sacroiliac joints (SIJ’s) were the cause of my problems. The Sacroiliac is where your spine meets your pelvis and its supposed to be a fairly fused joint, held with strong connective tissue. (This all happened before my Hypermobility diagnosis so I had no idea there was anything wrong with my connective tissue). Basically because my SIJ’s were unstable the muscles in my lower back over compensated and spasmed to hold everything in place.
After all the knots were worked out of my back I started a rigorous remedial Pilates course to help strengthen all of my postural muscles and it worked really well but because of the degree of hypermobility in my pelvis and spine I’ll probably always have problems.
I now have a mild scoliosis, (an S shaped curve in my spine) and a functional lordosis, (when I stand or sit up the arch in my back becomes more pronounced so my tummy sticks forward and my bum sticks out) I also have instability in all of my joints. All of this means that I basically have back ache all the time. With daily Pilates and physiotherapy I can keep my pain at a low-level.. if I slack on the physio I can end up in horrible pain with trapped nerves, wonky joints and all sorts.
In combination with the Pilates & physiotherapy I also wear corsets. I have built up a good collection of corsets now and I wear them for a number of reasons…
1st By supporting the joints in my back I can help take the pressure off my postural muscles and allow them to relax, this helps to minimise spasms.
2nd Since I developed Postural Tachycardia I have struggled with blood pooling and one of the things that helps me is abdominal compression.
3rd I lack proprioception and sometimes when I’m tired I genuinely can’t tell if I’m standing up straight or not! pop on a corset for a few hours and I regain some postural awareness.
4th I have on occasion subluxed (partly dislocated) various parts of my back and then corsets really came in handy!
5th for a while last year I had serious issues with my ribs dislocating away from my spine. I wore high-backed corsets to help hold my ribs in place, long line bra’s also helped.
6th They look really pretty and give you a fab silhouette!!
7th Have you ever seen an NHS back brace that looked good!
I don’t wear corsets all the time and I don’t waist train as such, If I lose a few inches off my waist then great but it’s not my primary aim, if I can minimise my pain for a few hours or rest my back after physio then mission accomplished!
I’ve spoken to a few friends about this and I have gradually notices more corsets appearing on my social media feeds. The most often asked questions from my friends have been about where to start!
So here’s my Corsets for back pain guide!
RESEARCH read up on different makes/brands/styles before you think about buying and think about your budget too. If you’re not planning on wearing your corset every day do you really want to spend hundreds of pounds? maybe you do but I don’t! I am more interested in pretty on a budget.. serious waist trainers wouldn’t recommend cheap corsets for a number of reasons mostly to do with fit and quality but for my purposes they have suited me fine.
BONES all corsets have bones.
Some fashion corsets have plastic bones, these offer little to no support and are likely to break.
Flexible steel bones offer a good balance of support with enough flexibility to mould to your body, this makes them comfortable and supportive.
Rigid steel bones are more for serious waist trainers, they are very supportive bit if the corset doesn’t fit you and the bones are solid they can rub, bruise, cause pressure issues etc. You need a very well fitted corset and you need to break it in (season it) carefully before prolonged wearing.
Corset laces tend to come in 2 kinds, ribbon or shoe lace style. the ribbon laces look pretty BUT have a tendency to come undone and the slipperiness makes lacing harder. The shoe lace kind might not look quite as nice but they do work a heck of a lot better!
I started learning from Lucy’s Corsetry and her amazing YouTube reviews & tutorials it’s a great place to go for further information!
I usually wear underbust corsets since most of my problems are with my lower back and because I’m pretty curvy so fitting the girls into off the rack overbust corsets can be difficult!
Lucy has a post on her website listing good quality corsets by price range, you can check that out HERE. There are reviews of each too. Within the corset training community Orchard Corsets seems to be one of the more popular beginner brands, If you’re in the UK then check out Corsets HQ on ebay. Amongst their cheap fashion clothing and fetish wear they have 3 styles of corset that are identical to the Orchard Corsets. Same factory, same patterns but shipped from the UK so they are cheaper and arrive faster too. I recently purchased their ‘Money Penny Cincher’ which is the same design as the CS-411. It cost me the grand total of £25, an absolute bargain for a good quality corset.
If you’re bottom heavy I also have a couple of corsets from Corset Boulevard, although they might not be strong enough for true waist training, as a support corset they work perfectly well.
I do own a fair few corsets from Corset Story and other cheap shops. Although they are not recommended within the corset wearing community I have never personally had an issue. With all clothing, you get what you pay for so please consider carefully before buying.
I think corsets can really help people with back pain if done right, but with this like all supportive devices it’s important to keep up/build muscle. Supporting without exercise to back it up will only lead to more problems! Make sure you continue with physiotherapy and regular exercise if you are going to wear corsets especially for prolonged periods of time!
If you are planning on wearing corsets regularly and getting into waist training then you need to consider the quality of the corset you are wearing, if possible and your finances allow then a custom-made corset is the best option. Lucy has a map of local corset makers here so you can look up the nearest one to you!
For anyone interested in reading more Lucy now has a book of corset narratives available via amazon.
I hope that’s helped some of you, please let me know what you think!
Ciao for now!