Could such an essential and humble item of underwear be a cause of back pain and posture problems? It’s not a commonly asked question, maybe because it’s taboo, but that’s no reason to avoid addressing this vital health issue.
Our clinical experience at Spinecentral reveals a resounding YES! Yes, your bra could certainly be contributing to your back pain!
What is your daily experience?
If you are like most women, you probably take your bra off when you get home.
Why? For immediate relief from the discomfort of underwires that are digging in, straps that are slipping off, shoulders aching, back hurting, and the feeling of compression and restriction to your chest and breathing.
If you experience relief when you remove your bra, then consider that your bras have become a bully to your body.
Unfortunately, there are many poorly designed bras on the market. Most women have learned to accept that bras are uncomfortable and even sacrifice comfort for fashion and chic. But women, you’ve been misled; your bra does not need to be a daily nuisance.
Bra, the modern girdle?
It wasn’t all that long ago that this was the daily reality for women!
Whilst not as extreme as the corset of the past, modern bra’s can still be highly restrictive to your body.
Ill-fitting and poorly designed breast supports can lead to restriction of the movement of your ribcage and pull your shoulders forward, leading to pain in shoulders, burning sensation in between the shoulder blades and even poor posture.
People do not generally consider their body to be a precision instrument, but it is. Even moderate restrictions and pressures that alter normal movement and alignment patterns can, over time, create problems.
And these problems can cascade. Consider how pain affects your mood, ability to exercise and move with ease and relax at will. Even if just a mild ongoing ache, chronic pain can have a significant negative impact on your daily life.
7 Signs you are wearing the wrong size bra – and what you should change
A 2008 STUDY found that 80% of women were wearing the wrong size bra. Unless you are intentional with choosing bras that fit correctly, you likely fall into that camp. Here are the clues:
- The underband is too high, or it digs into your skin. The underband should sit level all around your ribs and should be a firm fit. Allow a 5 cm gap when pulled away from your body and should stay level when you move around.
- You have spillover at the top, sides, or bottoms of your cups. Your whole breast should fit comfortably in each cup.
- The underwire is digging into your breast. You need a larger cup size.
- The centre of your chest band lifts away from your chest. The centre gore (the part of the bra in-between the cups) should rest against your body without gapping.
- Your straps keep falling off your shoulders, or you have indents across your shoulders from your bra straps. You should be able to pull the straps about a half-inch to one inch above your shoulder. Use wide straps for better support.
- Your sports bra crosses at the back. Those bras create chest compression and pull the shoulders and upper forward.
- You get neck, back, or shoulder pain while wearing a particular bra. Your body is giving you helpful feedback. You may not have the right fitting bra. Try making the changes suggested, but if your pain persists, make an appointment to get your back assessed by a Spinecentral practitioner. Never ignore pain.
The University of Portsmouth research group in breast Health has put together this advice following 12 years of research. Follow this link for more information:
What about the no bra option?
Jean-Denis Rouillon, Doctor at the Besançon hospital and Professor at the Franch-Comté University in France, studied breast health changes in women choosing not to wear a bra.
Following the observation of 320 women, less sagging was noticeable, and breasts were firmer. The participants of the study also noticed more comfort, less pain and better ability to breathe.
The lockdown has allowed many women to appreciate the freedom and relief of the no bra option. However, getting back to “the normal life” not wearing a bra can be uncomfortable socially. It is up to you to choose what suits you best.
Try this brief self-experiment and see your bra is affecting your body
- Take a deep breath wearing your bra: notice how much air comes in and how easy it is.
- Take a deep breath without it and notice the difference in your breathing.
You may well find a significantly better, deeper and easier breath with your bra off — this is a sign that your bra, whether through incorrect size or poor fitting, is restricting optimal joint and muscle functions in your back.
Another simple test is to have your partner or friend lift the tops of your bra straps off the shoulder (this takes the downwards pressure off of your shoulder) and test your breathing. Again, if that improves your breathing, your bra is incorrectly fitted.
Some recommendations for bras from a structural correction practitioner
Bras with lace
Wrapping it up
The basic purpose of a bra is to provide sufficient support for your breasts. If you choose a good bra, you will be comfortable and unrestricted in your day-to-day activities. On the other hand, a poorly fitted bra can cause you an awful lot of unnecessary aches and pains, and unfortunately, not enough women are aware of that fact. So my encouragement to you is to choose function and support over fashion and live your life unrestricted.
Suppose you are experiencing back pain, poor posture, shoulder tightness or neck pain on an ongoing basis. In that case, I’d also encourage you to call us up and go through a consultation and full Biostrcutral assessment with one of our Structural Correction practitioners. The first step is to get clear on the cause of the problem. From there, the solution becomes clear.
Click here to apply for a consultation.
Now, ladies, I’d like to hear from you 🙂 Have you experienced relief from choosing a better bra? Which are your favourite brands?
Marion Lefevre, DC