Everything you need to know about Hourglass syndrome!

Hourglass syndrome is the name given to the habit of the abdominal muscles sucking in or squeezing the stomach. Hourglass syndrome causes lung expansion due to oesophagal, diaphragm, or stomach constriction. Many people do it to seem slender and reduce belly fat, but it can become a habit and cause health difficulties due to frequent stomach constriction.  The hourglass shape is caused by a lack of strength in the upper abdominal and lower core muscles. People who want a tiny waist often compress their stomachs, causing lines. Some people have this syndrome automatically because of weak abdominal muscles; others do it willingly due to weight stigma or anxiety. In this article, we will discuss Hourglass syndrome.

How does Hourglass Syndrome occur?

Muscle strain in the upper abdominal wall is a common cause of hourglass syndrome. Unhealthy breathing patterns during exercise are a potential contributor. When the chest is lifted, the abdominal muscles contract first, alleviating the transverse abdominal muscle fibre and the lower fibres of the rectus abdominis. This, in turn, activates the core muscles of the back. An imbalanced usage of muscles significantly affects the lumbar spine, primarily due to improper breathing pattern exercises.

Symptoms of Hourglass Syndrome:

There might be a variety of signs and symptoms, including a sense of fullness or heaviness in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, acid reflux from indigestion, vomiting, chronic discomfort, trouble swallowing, and weight loss, soreness in the lower back or neck, and difficulty breathing. Overuse injuries are common in the back and neck from the continual contraction of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Constant discomfort in the back or neck is a known trigger for headaches and migraines.

Symptoms of this illness may persist long after the initial injury has healed and may be stored in long-term memory in the affected muscles. Short-term occurrences of this syndrome may be brought on by indigestion brought on by factors such as overeating, smoking, and alcohol consumption, all of which increase stomach acid levels and muscle contraction, thereby irritating the windpipe as the acid refluxes due to stomach contraction.

Side effects of hourglass syndrome:

There are several side effects of hourglass syndrome, including soreness in the back and neck from overuse due to compensating for the abs’ contraction of the diaphragm. The hourglass effect can also occur after general anaesthesia in patients who have undergone abdominal surgery. If the mother’s abdominal muscles spasm when she is giving birth, the placenta could become a source of difficulties.

Low back pain:

The diaphragm is an essential stabiliser of the lower back. The safety of the lower back is at stake if it isn’t functioning correctly. Because of the diaphragm’s inefficiency, other muscles, particularly the lower back extensors, will have to do more work. The opposing picture depicts the thick red arrows and huge sausage of extensors. The patient’s neck muscles are straining to keep his head stable as he lifts it. Instead of making sausage, employ all these muscles. Overusing these muscles can cause tension and pain.

Discomfort in the Neck:

Problems with Stabilisation and breathing will arise if the diaphragm does not drop properly. The neck could become strained from doing this. The diaphragm’s centre of mass should be facing down, as explained. While doing so, the lungs will fill with air, and the abdomen will expand. The hourglass syndrome disrupts this rhythm of movement, causing the chest and shoulders to rise when breathing in. Neck tension causes headaches and neck pain.

Acid Reflux:

The diaphragm is essential for breathing and maintaining internal body temperature, in addition to its sphincter function. This prevents the oesophagus from being blocked by food that has moved to the stomach. This is something that may need to be taken into account while designing a treatment plan for gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Overall unattractiveness:

While it’s everyone’s goal to maintain a flat stomach, carrying excess fat around the midsection might cause an activation imbalance and put unnecessary strain on the stomach. Doing this often for an extended period increases the risk that your brain may “rewire” itself from its regular stable pattern to the new one. If you keep doing it, this is what will eventually occur. It acts similarly to a virus in that it disrupts the functioning of the program currently being executed on your computer.

Common types of defensive mechanisms:

This preventative technique is utilized to protect your muscles from becoming damaged due to excessive use. You might feel uncomfortable for a while after the pain has passed, even though the agony has stopped. Following an injury to a muscle, the muscle will go through a period of recovery, during which it will take in new information. They swiftly develop techniques of defending themselves that are more effective than the damage done to them.

Diagnostic methods for hourglass:

Diagnostic methods for hourglass-shaped stomachs include the barium meal test, which reveals stomach distention exclusively on the sides, and the Gastroscopy. If hourglass syndrome results from a habit, it must be broken; if it is the result of an uncontrollable process, medical help should be sought. Exercise reduces abdominal muscle stress. Core plank and wall posture are great abdominal exercises.


Physical exercise, dietary changes, and physiotherapy may help those suffering from the hourglass syndrome, which can be hard to identify, can endure for an extended period, and can even be an involuntary reflex of the abdominal muscles grabbing. Involuntary contractions of the abdominal muscles may be the underlying cause in certain situations. Because of the seriousness of the consequences, which might extend to other parts of the body, including other muscles and organs, it is essential that one not do it on purpose.


What is Hourglass syndrome?

The Hourglass syndrome is usually reversible, which is excellent news. We may unlearn the habit of holding in our stomach muscles just as quickly as we developed it. Educating yourself on the issue is the first step towards solving it.

How often would you say hourglass syndrome is?

The medical community refers to stomach clutching as “hourglass syndrome,” associated with a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms that can be pretty unpleasant. Diaphragm dysfunction and abdominal tightness cause this syndrome.

Can hourglass-shaped body conditions be treated?

There are effective treatments for hourglass syndrome, but they don’t include just “baring everything.” If you’ve trained your body to hold in your stomach, Dr Browning has some suggestions for breaking the habit.

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