The surprising consequences of sucking in your stomach

It may seem like it’s giving you a workout for the entire day, but sucking in and tensing your abs constantly can have health consequences.

People who suck in their stomach — also called stomach gripping — can lead to breathing and pelvic issues as well as neck and back pain, according to Today.

The condition — colloquially known as hourglass syndrome — is a result of continuously sucking your stomach in, which people typically do to make themselves look thinner.

However, experts are warning people about its unhealthy side effects and that, despite the condition’s name, it does not result in an hourglass figure.

“Stomach gripping is the process of repeatedly and extensively contracting the muscles of your upper abdomen in order to pull your stomach up and in,” chiropractor Adam Browning told Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials. “It can alter the movement patterns of your abdominal muscles, which leads to imbalances known as ‘hourglass syndrome.’ “

Sucking in your stomach can adversely affect the pelvic muscles, which can cause urine leakage when laughing, coughing or sneezing, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
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When the muscles of the upper abdomen become tight, lower abdomen muscles become weak and underused. And while the results won’t be deadly, they can lead to some serious issues, Browning noted.

As the diaphragm is vital for breathing, interrupting its natural function by moving up rather than down can impact how deep of a breath is taken, as well as leaving less room for the ribs and lungs to expand.

The pelvic muscles can also be affected and weakened, which can cause urine leakage when laughing, coughing or sneezing, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Continuously practicing the habit of sucking in the stomach can be harmful, experts say.
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Another possible side effect documented by TikTokers is dimpling under the lower ribs.

Earlier this year, body-positive TikToker Nikki Garza opened up in a video about what it’s like to live with the condition, saying it’s a result of years of reinforced diet culture passed down through the generations.

“My grandma told me to suck in when I was 8, and I never breathed comfortably again,” she captioned her viral clip.

Luckily, if you are a chronic stomach gripper, you can remedy it through simple practices, such as making a conscious effort to not suck in your stomach.

Browning also suggests learning to breathe properly — and breathe deeply — as well as seeing a physiotherapist to help target the muscles that were weakened through the practice.