By Fran of Contour Corsets
Copyrighted and used by permission of the author
People have asked me about the effects of tightlacing and blood pressure. Curiously, I developed my Cycle Method largely as a result of my research in monitoring my own blood pressure over the course of two years while I tightlaced, in 2006 and 2007.
The ideal average at-rest blood pressure for an adult is 120/80. I found that when at rest in the corset at average laced pressures that my blood pressure reading taken on my arm at heart level while standing or lying down was average, and while sitting upright was around 125/90. The systolic pressure was average, and the diastolic slightly increased when seated, due largely to the increased upward pressure on the ribcage when in a seated position. When I felt agitated while in the corset my systolic increased on the average to 135 and the diastolic to 95 or 100. As a result I learned that when I would be aggravated or stressed that it was important to take off the corset until I calmed down. As a result I developed the rule to never tightlace while upset or distressed, as it does exacerbate hypertension.
Trying to reduce your waist size too quickly can create issues due to the pressures involved, and if you are not careful in keeping those pressures in balance you can become hypertensive. Because of this it is important to practice moderate pressures, particularly when you are active, to prevent hypertension.
I have written about developing respiratory efficiency in order to be more active in the corset, and this is also a component in keeping the diastolic low. The diastolic is the measured arterial pressure when the heart is at rest, between beats. I always advise to new eager tightlacers to take their rib recontouring slowly, and this is for many reasons, the most important from a health standpoint being the reduced space in which the heart and lungs must operate. Also as a rule too, the leaner you are the more critical this becomes. Without respiratory efficiency the wearer breathes much deeper, and if you are lacing too tightly, and also if you are eating too much at one sitting, the deeper breathing and fuller stomach puts added pressure against the heart and larger arteries and increases blood pressure. So, often when you eat you have to let out the corset, or if you are more active you should take the corset off. Very small waisted people who have achieved a high reduction safely do so slowly and with a balance of pressures, moderate eating, and considerations to their respiration to keep their blood pressures low. It is because of all these reasons I do believe that following the Cycle Method is so important.
Keeping properly hydrated is also important to maintaining good blood pressure. Having adequate blood volume is critical to good health in general, but if you tightlace then you need to be especially careful to maintain adequate hydration, regardless of how thirsty you may or may not be. You can become very dehydrated when laced and not know it, because of the decreased body volume that the corset creates. But if you are dehydrated in the corset, when you remove the corset you can experience sudden low blood pressure. I think that the legendary fainting spells in Victorian lore could be attributed to this. You could experience the same if you are not careful! Drinking a good 8 glasses of water per day is a good goal, and drink even more if it is a hot day. Also be careful with salt, because too much will cause you to retain fluids which will also effect your blood pressure.
So, as always, slow and steady is the best philosophy. Listen to your body and if you are concerned about blood pressure then do what I did and get a monitor. Knowledge is power, and with the feedback of a blood pressure monitor you can get a good sense of how your own body reacts to all the various situations and make the best decisions for your own comfort and health as you tightlace.
Please be sure to check out Fran’s custom corsets at http://www.contourcorsets.com/