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What is Hourglass Syndrome & How is it Treated? | Causes & Prevention of Hourglass Syndrome

What is Hourglass Syndrome?

Hourglass syndrome is a term used to describe the sucking in the stomach region. This action pulls in the ribs and gives the waist a small hourglass shape. Hourglass syndrome may occur as a result of underlying pain or poor posture.

People may also develop hourglass syndrome due to trying to make their waist appear smaller.

There can be uncomfortable symptoms due to pulling in the abdominal muscle or stomach gripping. These may include acid reflux, lower back pain, or headaches.

Causes of Hourglass Syndrome

The potential cause of hourglass syndrome includes the following:(2)

  1. Poor Posture

    Hourglass syndrome leads to overtightening of the upper abdominal muscles, gradually reducing the muscle strength and tension in the lower abdominal muscles.(1) This imbalance in muscle strength may lead to postural issues.

    Poor posture in long term may lead to joint dysfunction, digestive issues, and breathing difficulties.

  2. Abdominal Pains

    Persistent pain in the abdomen may cause a person to tighten their abdominal muscles resulting in hourglass syndrome.

    Injury, gastrointestinal dysfunction, and diseases affecting the small intestine are the few conditions that may cause abdominal pain and hourglass syndrome.

  3. Desire To Be Thin

    Some people develop hourglass syndrome in a desire to appear slimmer. It can be due to negative body image or societal pressure to be thin.(2)

    A study found the prevalence of weight control behaviors in British adolescents increased over the past 30 years.(3)

    In severe cases, the weight control behavior may further lead to an eating disorder.

Treatment and Prevention of Hourglass Syndrome

There are many causes of hourglass syndrome that can be prevented and are treatable as well. A few tips that can be helpful in preventing hourglass syndrome are as follows:

Muscle Relaxation

Muscle relaxation can be helpful in addressing overtightening of the upper abdominal muscles.

Muscle relaxation can be done with yoga. Research shows the effectiveness of yoga and meditation in lowering stress levels.(4) This can further help in relaxing the abdominal muscles.

Muscle Strengthening

Exercise help in strengthening the muscle of the lower abdomen and also help in addressing the imbalance in the strength of the muscle of the upper and lower abdomen.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can also be helpful in treating a few cases of hourglass syndrome.

A physical therapist can build an exercise program that can be helpful in improving posture, muscle strength, and body alignment.

Psychological Therapies

Psychological therapies can be beneficial for people who develop hourglass syndrome due to body image concerns.

A person experiencing it should speak with the doctor and get a referral for talk therapy or cognitive behavior therapy.

Hourglass syndrome is a condition that refers to habitual stomach gripping or sucking in the abdominal muscles. It has numerous potential causes including body image concerns. Its treatment depends on the cause and may include exercise, physical therapy, muscle strengthening and relaxation, or psychological therapy.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 1, 2022

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