Q: To what extent does corset-wearing negatively affect the (already stressed) female perineum?
Following example has been made: Imagine, a balloon full with water is being compressed in the middle, in a way like pulling the upper half in a drawer. The content of the balloon will try to get space for itself in the lower part of the balloon. (However, it has been stressed that this description is very drastic and the situation with the corset is not so heavy, but it should happen basically the same.) The point is, that the pressure on the perineum is with corset higher than without. I wonder, how much higher? Should we be aware of this problem? Is it a problem at all? If yes, for whom: either only for tightlacer, or for all corset wearer? ---Ildiko (5/20/08)
A: In principle you are correct that, in most cases, corset compression will increase IAP, and thus pressure on the pelvic floor. However, this increase in absolute terms is fairly modest and reaches only significant levels when untrained individuals engage in excessive lacing, that is, without having worked on a gradual acclimation to being laced. In a healthy body, the muscle groups exposed to added tension will respond and slowly develop to provide counter pressure over time, thus preventing issues. It is correct to assert that frequent and regular Kegel exercises are very beneficial in general, not just for tight-lacers. It is also important to note that the sensation of corset pressure is primarily from the skin, which is primarily sensitive to inward pressure presented to the skin into the body, compared to much less sensitivity from IAP, or the outward pressure from the abdominal content, which stretches the abdominal wall. E.g. the contractile force from the transverse abdominal muscles, also known as the natural corset, can be very high, yet a corset laced to the same contraction level feels much tighter than that, due to how the skin sensors work. As a result, corset pressure is usually "over experienced", and far more comparable to the pressures already occurring naturally in the body.
I assert that the untrained muscles are an issue in general that should be addressed as such, and that corseting a reasonably or even modestly trained body should not present issues for the pelvic floor.
However, as you suggest, a warning is appropriate for those with a weakened abdominal floor, who should practice daily Kegel exercises, especially if they are intent on tight-lacing. This case may present itself in post-partum mothers who are now a new growing group of corset- wearers for the purpose of restoring their figure. Their plan to wear a corset regularly should include back, abdominal and Kegel exercises.
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