Bad bras - a real pain in the neck!
..and the back, arms, ribs, shoulders and boobs for that matter!
There's no denying that changing from the wrong bra to a bra which fits you perfectly can make you look a whole lot better - perky, uplifted, slimmer, younger...choose your happy boob description. But, when the topic of bad bras comes up many people have a "so what?" attitude. So what if retailers are fitting women in the wrong bra - it's just an item of clothing? A case of vanity - right?
Well, no, it's not.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the sartorial benefits of a good bra. But it's not the only reason for this campaign. Bad bras hurt - sometimes a lot. Over the last few months I have helped a lot of women find their real bra size, and the problems they report from bad bras are awful.
Here's one lady's story:
"I had an appointment with a physio for my back pain this week and was told that my badly fitting bras had caused poor posture which had caused my problems. The difference now that the bras fit and are not constantly pulling my shoulders down and forward is life changing! I have parathesia (numbness), neck pain, headaches, back pain. The neck pain was so severe it was causing vertigo and vision issues. The shoulder straps digging in caused me to hunch my shoulders so much that I have given myself a shelf where my neck and back meet. As a consequence I was only moving half my neck which was causing such bad neck and shoulder pain that I have spent most of the past year on strong pain killers. I also had bras that rubbed so much that caused bleeding. All professionally fitted
A better fitting bra has taken the weight of my shoulders. It's only been a month, but I can exercise again, my back pain is improving and I'm able to start retraining my posture so that eventually I will hopefully be completely pain free eventually. I'm also not longer desperate to take my bra off as soon as I can, or covered in deep red welts.
It is so so much better... it's not even been a whole month since I got the bras that fit- in fact it's only been a fortnight! I just cannot imagine how I lived with it before."
Back pain is a huge problem. The British Chiropractic Association found that 47% of women have suffered from back pain which they attributed directly to the weight of their breasts. They go on to explain "Bras are like
suspension bridges, you need a well engineered bra so your shoulders don’t take all of the
strain and end up doing all of the work; spreading the load is important. Bras that don’t fit
will affect the shoulders and chest and may cause back pain as you get older. It is so
important to make sure a bra gives you enough support as possible."
The support from a bra needs to come from the back - and that means a firm, well fitting band which
does not ride up and can support the weight of your breasts. Take a look at our fitting guide for help
on getting this right.
When your bra is too big at the back your shoulders take the strain. You end up tightening the straps
more and more to get support, which then makes the straps dig in. The straps hurt, and you end up
hunching your shoulders to try and make it hurt less. Suddenly, you have a bad posture, your shoulders
hurt and now your back is joining the pain party too. Your neck may well pop in to say hello as well.
Of course, it's not just the back pain. Women often say they hate their bras. Digging in, rubbing,
itching,blisters, even bleeding have been reported...from bras which retailers have fitted. Your bra
shouldn't be wriggling around and moving. If it does, you end up with sore patches as it rubs against
the skin. Too small a cup size means the wire ends up sitting on soft breast tissue which is very tender.
So it digs in, and you end up with incredibly sore bits.
I've also seen ladies with huge deep grooves in their shoulders which stay for hours after their bra
For some women, bad bras can be a source of headaches - overtightened shoulder straps dig in and
press on delicate nerves leading to nasty headaches.
This just isn't right.
And don't forget about breastfeeding. A lot of retailers will tell pregnant women to never wear an underwire because it's "dangerous" but in a well fitting bra, it's not. However, when any bra fits poorly - especially when the cup is too small - then that puts pressure on the tender breast tissue, can block ducts and lead to mastitis. If you are pregnant or feeding it's really important to make sure that your bra fits. If you wear wires, it needs to sit outside the breast tissue, and if you are wearing softcups make sure it is big enough and isn't just squashing/compressing you.
We need better bras. We need proper fittings. And we need the
retailers to get this right
retailers to get this right