Nature often needs a little extra support

A topic that is often under-discussed is the issue of ill-fitting bras, especially for larger breasted women.

For many Australian women an ill-fitting bra can be a source of pain, distress and embarrassment; the discomfort caused can stop these women being physically active, healthy and happy.

Breast support can be a sensitive issue, especially for younger or larger breasted women, but it is important to understand it and get it right, as much pain and discomfort can easily be prevented. 

Eighty-five per cent of females of all ages and sizes are currently wearing a bra that does not fit correctly. An ill-fitting bra can lead to insufficient breast support, which leads to musculoskeletal pain. Neck and back pain are the areas where most women suffer. However headaches are also not uncommon, secondary to poor postures.

The forces created by the weight of large breasts can pull your trunk, head and neck forward. Poked-neck posture is a common posture that physiotherapists observe. This type of posture puts extra stress on the joints at the top of your neck.

With each centimetre that your head sits forward of a neutral position (ears over shoulders), an extra kilogram of weight is added to an-already very heavy head. Hence why headaches and tension in the neck and shoulders occur.

The common areas of pain are often exacerbated with exercise. Exercise-induced breast discomfort (EIBD) is associated with vertical breast displacement (ie. bounce) during activities such as running and jumping. As little as two centimetres displacement can induce EIBD, but up to 12 centimetres has been recorded. A well-fitting, high-support bra can significantly decrease vertical breast displacement and discomfort.

Features of a high-support bra include full coverage cups; a strong elastic back band, that is sufficiently wide for the size of the breasts and wide, padded straps.

Underwire or soft cup depends on the fit. If you can have access to a professional bra fitting service while purchasing a bra, this is encouraged. However a physiotherapist should always assess the fit, as they can determine if the bra fits with movement.

One hundred per cent of large-breasted females who requested reduction surgery were wearing ill-fitting bras. By becoming informed and educated about the features of a well-fitted bra, symptoms were improved by eighty-five percent.

Talk to your physiotherapist today if you feel you could benefit from more information. No one should have to forego living a healthy, active lifestyle because of what nature gave you.