After much deliberation & a weekend of new pain flares in my back, we made the decision to extract my corsets from the loft & purchase a new steel boned one.
I can hear the feminists heads exploding from here. Stop it. This is not about looking sexy & crushing my ribcage. In my early 20s, yes, it was about tight-lacing and feeling like a victorian lady of loose morals. But with constriction came the benefit of reduced back & rib pain, something which spiralled out of control last year & again gently upped the anti over this summer.
There are a number of actual medical benefits to those of us with EDS in wearing a well fitting corset (standard disclaimer: I am not a medical expert. This is personal experience & research):
- Back support that’s attractive
- Rib support for when they wobble
- Retained good posture for longer
- Reduced pain from discs
- Enforced posture even when muscles relax
There are a number of styles available. My preference being under bust waist only, or high back under bust which provides more shoulder support but can be uncomfortable for long periods of time. Bones are another thing to be aware of – avoid plastic boning like the plague! It’s for decoration only and the minute you pull on those laces, the bones will poke you in the sides and more importantly give no support. Solid steel bones are available in heavy duty tightlacing corsets where much like the metal wrist & thumb splints we’re used to, the metal can be bent to our exact shape. These provide ultimate support, but don’t expect to be able to move (or breathe) much more than Scarlet O’Hara. These solid steel bones mimic the old whalebone corsets that got such a bad press.
The best of the bunch is the steel ring (spiral) boning which is flexible and provides support without sticking you or crushing anything internal or important!
Prices for a steel boned corset range from anywhere between £30 to several £100. A high back bespoke one is most definitely on my Christmas list, but for now I’m at the lower end of the price range with a simple steel boned waist trainer.
If I’m brutally honest with myself, despite hitting my mid-30s & being a size or two larger, I still see myself as the person here (who was wearing a tightlacer in this photo) with my multicoloured dreadlocks bathing in computer code.
I realised that I’d actually worn corsets on a number of occasions with the same benefits that I’m seeking now in the past. My most obvious was during my second pregnancy where my pelvis just fell apart & I was combining medical corsets & pelvic strapping to keep me upright from about 14 weeks. Clearly, this was the perfect time to get married, and at 20 weeks pregnant I hid the crutches from every photo and wore the slightly adjusted dress and discretely spent a whole lot of time sat down. That corset stayed holding me together for the next 12 weeks until my waters suddenly broke & TinyPants made her unexpected exit.
With made to measure corsets way out of our price range while I was still at university & with 2 tiny children, I went hell for leather with the sewing machine and created a few of my own steel boned tightlace corsets for post partum me. We had no clue about the EDS at that time, but knew my pelvis was doing some form of Mexican wave and I’d slipped several discs. Even as fun costumes (I’m Anne Boleyn post beheading here – Halloween party 2008ish), I made sure steel bones were included.
And now? Sat in either of my wheelchairs, I have a tendency to slouch, or if sit up straight I overarch my back which is painful at the best of times, but combined with a thoracic curve to the right and no spacial awareness, nerves are pinched and damaged. I’d love to look pretty in it, but foremost I want that prod to make me maintain the posture I need to hold to minimise further damage? Sitting all day is uncomfortable at best, torturous at worst. After an hour I’m usually twisting & stretching : I leave for work at 7.30am and am usually home around 6pm. This corset is going to have a tough job on its hands.
I shall keep you posted.