The split truth behind the cow’s belly

Have you ever thought a lot about what your belly looks like or why it might look that way? This may not be something you consider until you realize that your belly looks a little different.

Or maybe you noticed it during pregnancy, a time when people tend to focus a lot on their bellies and what they “should” look like.

So what is belly B?

In the simplest terms, belly B is shaped like the letter ‘B.’ Usually, there is a “waist belt” effect that divides the abdomen into upper and lower sections, like the letter ‘B’ on the side. This is different from the more common ‘D-shaped’ belly or the apron belly without a waistband.

Curlycurvydiva on IG - B belly
Image via @curlycurvydiva

Let’s get into the theory!

You may be wondering why this is happening – why do some of us have “belt” and some don’t. A lot of us have been told since childhood that we have a B belly because of wearing pants there or because tight pants cause a dent. This is one of the most common myths and is not supported by any kind of evidence.

One theory is Abdominal fascia injury. The fascia is a thin sheath of connective tissue that surrounds and holds in place all organs, blood vessels, bones, fibers, and muscles. Weight damage can occur due to dehydration, poor posture, stress, injured muscles, etc.

Likewise, the muscles in your abdomen can be damaged during the procedure pregnancy. Some women only notice a B belly when they are pregnant, and it may appear after pregnancy. While pregnancyThe muscles stretch to accommodate the growing baby and can cause the muscles to relax, sometimes leading to rectal metastases. Separation of rectus abdominal muscles occurs when the right and left sides of the external abdominal muscles separate, causing a bulge where they split.

What is hourglass syndrome?

Perhaps the most intriguing theory behind belly B is hourglass syndrome, also known as stomach grip. Hourglass syndrome occurs when the individual repeatedly overuses their upper and inner core muscles, causing the diaphragm to create a muscular imbalance in the core muscles.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Could this have something to do with my tummy tuck when I was younger to make my belly look flatter?” The short answer is yes! That could very well happen! The name comes from the action of “sucking” into the stomach to pull in the lower ribs and give the waist a smaller, hourglass shape.

Growing up in society at large, we are often asked to shrink or do whatever we can to look closer to beauty standards. This leads to many of us having to tighten our abs to make the belly look smaller. Unfortunately, due to society’s emphasis on appearance, this condition seems to be becoming more common.

Many people, after learning about hourglass syndrome via social media, have pointed to singing or playing an instrument as a potential culprit leading to uneven use of the abdominal muscles. It is also not exclusive to people of larger sizes. Anyone can experience abdominal pain, but it seems to be less pronounced, even more muscular, on leaner bodies.

There are some popular symptom associated with hourglass syndrome. Low back pain can result from improper use of the abdominal muscles, which puts stress on the joints and discs in the lower back, leading to pain. Neck pain and headaches can be caused by the neck not being supported properly when breathing.

The diaphragm should have the freedom to raise and lower without resistance but squeezing the stomach will limit that process. Constriction of the diaphragm can also cause breathing problems, chest tightness, acid reflux, and difficulty exercising.

The first person to bring hourglass syndrome to TikTok was Marie Soledad in May 2021. Marie said, “The first time I made a video about hourglass syndrome, I didn’t think anyone would see it, except for a few friends. I even thought about getting rid of the whole series, because I was a bit embarrassed. But within the past two years, those videos have received millions of views, hundreds of thousands of likes, and have inspired further medical studies on gastric tightening.”

Marie continued to say, “Most importantly, I received a lot of comments and watched a lot of videos on TikTok of other people sharing their experiences with colic. I’ve received comments or stitches where people will say they don’t know how the name got its name and don’t know if anyone else has a belly like this. Women in their 50s and 60s will comment and say I never had the language for this and I think I did something wrong all this time.”

Marie’s videos about hourglass syndrome have prompted numerous additional videos, research on the condition, and countless articles. But she is often not credited for bringing this information to light.

Marie said, “I was very upset about not receiving credit for the work for which I made these videos. Knowing that I’ve found the answers not only for myself but for thousands of others, reminds me that I didn’t make these videos to go viral. I created them to share information, get answers, and find community with others going through the same thing.”

Is there anything that can ‘fix’ hourglass syndrome?

There are several options to help treat hourglass syndrome. Learning how to relax the muscles to deal with tight core muscles, correct breathing exercises, and exercises to treat muscle imbalances can be helpful, especially if you’re already actively pulling your abs.

Physical therapy and chiropractic care to correct posture and muscle problems are also an option. If you have body image concerns that cause you to have a belly-hugging habit, there is psychotherapy to address those issues.

Sunnytraineronline on IG - B belly
Image via @sunnytraineronline

Is there hope for the future?

You may be thinking, “Oh great, B bellies are just another thing overlooked by the medical community because they are most noticeable in oversized people.” And you may be wondering what the outlook will be with this information.

An upset stomach is often caused by discomfort or dissatisfaction with one’s own body because of comparing oneself to traditional beauty standards.

Follow others on social media (alike @PlusSizeMom) people who are going against those standards and fighting to lose fat gives us hope that the next generation won’t experience the same discomfort with their bodies and learn to love their skin their.

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