A TikToker recently went viral for a video sharing “a fact so ridiculous, you didn’t believe it until you looked it up for yourself.” What was the fact that 27-year-old Nikki Garza shared? That “stomach gripping” (or “hourglass syndrome”) is a thing.
Garza, who is an actor and content creator living in Atlanta, shared that she learned something wild about her body a few months ago. The indents under her boobs are not “under-boob” — they’re the result of something called stomach gripping, otherwise known as “hourglass syndrome.”
In the video, Garza explained that she believes the indents under her breasts happened after years of sucking in her stomach as a child.
“If it isn’t the consequences of my mother and grandmother’s actions,” she joked.
So what actually causes this?
“Typically, this occurs when someone is using their upper abs and external obliques a lot. It can be caused because someone is trying to ‘suck in’ and make their stomach look flatter, or it can occur because their upper abs are much stronger than their lower abdominals (the transversus abdominus),” physical therapist Dr. Alexis Shoope told BuzzFeed.
“It can be relatively common in women who may have been told to ‘suck in,’ or for those who purposefully did it to make their abs seem flatter. It also can be common with people who breathe more shallow breaths, and are not letting their diaphragm expand fully to get a full, deep breath.”
Dr. Shoope said there are also treatments that can help.
“Yes! It absolutely can be treated through physical therapy. We work on things like breathing in various positions to help with offloading where pressure is more present. We work on exercises that include the breath from there. Meditation has been shown to have great effects for people to relax those muscles and become aware of the gripping throughout the day. Awareness is often half the battle! Additionally, we can work on rib mobility — and mobilizing the ab muscles that are not moving as much as we would like — to allow the breath to expand more and more evenly and disperse the pressure.”
Garza admitted that she had no idea there was an explanation. “I get my physicals every year, and my doctor’s never mentioned it to me. My gyno’s never mentioned it to me…I didn’t even think about it even when I went there. It was just like, OK, that sucks, and then I moved on with my life.”
Garza wants people to embrace their bodies and reject toxic comments like the ones she heard growing up.
“Always, growing up it was, ‘Suck in your stomach; suck in your stomach; suck in your stomach,'” she said. “You weren’t pretty if you didn’t suck in your stomach, you weren’t feminine enough if you didn’t suck in your stomach. All these little things we tell children, and we have no idea how 10, 20 years later it actually manifests, both mentally and physically.”
Featured Image: TikTok