80% of women wear the wrong bra size according to most research papers. Many women who present to their chiropractor are therefore wearing the incorrect underwear, which can ultimately lead to back pain.
Women often come to the clinic complaining of everything from persistent headaches, breathlessness, back / neck pain or shoulder tightness.
All of these things may well have a root, or be increased by poorly fitting underwear.
Most women report standing taller and feeling freer the instant they change to underwear that fits them correctly.
Bras are often viewed as an aesthetic or functional item. This is somewhat of a fallacy as in reality a correctly fitted and supportive bra, irrespective of bust size, is as important as correctly fitting shoes. Just as you would not wear hiking boots to your own wedding, you should also choose a bra style that is right for its use. Using a full cup bra can reduce breast bounce in exercise by about 38%, but using a good sports bra will reduce it by about 72%. If a sports bra fits properly, your breasts should barely move when you jump.
If you were to go to the underwear drawer of many women and see how many bras it contained, most would be shocked that there are often 10-20 plus, and when asked how many they wear, many will say that it is really only 3-5 of those and that they are often some of the oldest ones. I have seen many women who come in complaining of mid / upper back and neck pain, who fall in to this category, and on very basic testing, and suggestion of a bra sizing trip, they return miraculously better. There are obviously some very useful things that a chiropractor can do to help with back and shoulder problems, but it would be sensible to have done all you can to ensure you are not causing the problem with your underwear.
There are a few simple things that should be understood and can really help with these problems. This information comes from recent research from Rigby and Peller (London).
First is the understanding that your bust is not the same when you are 50 as when you were 15, no matter how much you may wish it were. Your bust changes size as your hormone levels change, most notably in pregnancy, or with some women when they are on the contraceptive pill, so it is sensible to have a slightly different fits for different times of the month / year. If it’s really comfortable, it is probably fitting well.
A 34B from one retailer is not the same as a 34B from another. You need to be careful as you select that the bra fits you well and supportively. A 34B is often a very similar overall size to a 32C or a 36A, but is going to be quite a different shape.
We have all seen women who appear to have 4 breasts as they are wearing underwear that is far too small, though it is not always this overt. You may well leave a good bra shop with 3 differently sized bras that all feel equally comfortable in the wearing. 80% of all support in a bra comes from the band that goes round your back, but many women seem to have this wrong and instead choose to try and lift the breasts using the shoulder straps. All this does is cut right into the shoulder muscles, pull the back of the bra upwards and place the strains in all the wrong places.
This can equally go the other way, with women who wear bras that are too large. If the straps are too loose and you have a fuller breast, then the underwires can be pushed up into the breast tissue, causing all manner of problems. About 80% of bras use underwire, especially for the more voluptuous lady, but they still need to be properly fitted to prevent the wires pushing in and causing problems.
Good underwires should be really flexible and return to the normal shape easily. If you have discomfort in the front of your chest, then often the bra band or the straps are too loose.
Think about the fabric of your bra. Many bras have thin, sheer fabric on the bra band with no give. These can often break down quickly and lead to bra integrity being lost. A good quality bra can still look pretty with these sheer fabrics, but they are generally wider in the band. When you feel the stretch / resistance of the fabric, it should feel firm and strong. Try it, you will instantly spot the differences.
When it comes to telling if your bra is the right size, there are a few simple rules that can be followed.
1. You should be able to slide 2 fingers horizontally round each side of your ribs under the bra band at the same time (or the back of the band should pull about 2” off your back without massively changing the shape of your bust or the bra.
2. The bottom of the bra band, where it passes under you arm, should be easily pulled to 1” from the skin.
3. The top of the bra band, where it passes under your arm, should be easily pulled to 1.5” from the skin.
4. The shoulder straps, when viewed from the front, should not be making dents into your shoulders, and should be easily lifted to about 1” without too much movement of the bust and the back of the bra should not rise.
5. If wearing an underwire, this should lie flat against your breast bone between your breasts but it should be easy to slide 1 finger underneath it.
We’d love you to give us a ring at Luck’s Yard Clinic to see if we can help you in any way, from a quick check to ensure that your posture is good and how you move, to a full treatment session.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to know more, or need a consultation.
Nic Langlois, MChiro, BSc. Luck’s Yard Clinic. 01483-527945
Member since: 1st March 2012
My passion is education and community and I love being part of a team. I started Luck's Yard Clinic in 2007 with a vision to enable profesional health practitioners to work under the same roof in order...