Whether you’re a fan of frills and lace or plain and beige, did you know your favourite bra could be bad for you? Many women wear the wrong size bra, which may be damaging your health…
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To check if your bra is fitting correctly, lift up your arms and twist your body – your bra should stay perfectly in place.
‘If you get the cup size and underband right, you’ll feel so comfortable and supported, it’ll feel like you’re not wearing anything,’ says bra-fitting expert Julia Mercer.
But with 85% of women wearing the wrong bra size, a little discomfort is the tip of the iceberg – you could actually be putting yourself at risk for serious health issues.
As well as backache, neck or shoulder pain, and headaches, experts link poor posture, arthritis, slipped discs and nerve damage to a poorly-fitting bra.
‘A bra that’s too tight restricts movement in the upper back, causing stiffness as well as spine restriction,’ says physiotherapist Tim Allardyce.
And it’s not good news if your bra is loose either…
A bra that is slightly too big doesn’t support your cleavage, so your neck and upper back muscles have to work harder to support the weight of your boobs.
‘As soon as the neck muscles are overworked, you’re far more likely to get a headache,’ says Tim, ‘this isn’t so much an issue with smaller breasts, but with larger breasts, it can be quite a strain.’
Read more: 7 (health-related) reasons to get naked!
The band is too big
The most support comes from the back band, so if that’s too loose, your bra isn’t performing its function. ‘When the band is too big, bras can travel up the back,’ says Julia.
Or you could be suffering from ‘underboob’, when your breasts spill out from below the cup.
A perfectly-fitting bra will only allow space for two fingers to slip underneath the band; if the band is too tight, you might notice back-fat bulge – which won’t look pretty in that slinky top.
Your cup is half empty
Have you lost weight recently? Well done!
But it’s time to check that your cups are still the right size and they offer adequate support to the delicate breast tissue.
Since your breasts are made of up to 75% fat, they can often be the first thing to change if you drop a few kilos, so reducing the cup size is key to a snug fit.
The straps are too tight
Ugly indentations on your shoulders at the end of the day are a clear sign your straps are too tight. ‘This happens when the straps have been over-adjusted with the intention of giving support,’ says Julia.
‘If straps are shortened too much, the breast will fall forward and the back of the bra will work its way up, therefore not giving you any support at all.’
Check that you’re not being over-zealous with your straps by slipping them off your shoulders – if your boobs drop suddenly, you need to loosen the straps, as the cups should always stay in place and support your breasts.
Your cleavage is spilling out
If your bra’s too small, you’ll notice it first in the cups. ‘You’ll see spillage in the cleavage area, under the arms, and across the back,’ says Julia.
You might also notice a bit of side-boob or a ‘four boob’ effect when the breast spills out over the sides and top of the cups – not a good look!
‘The cups should firmly encase the breast, sitting fully back at the centre front, with no wires digging into the breast tissue,’ advises Julia.
You’re not choosing the right bra shape
There are four key bra shapes: plunge, balconette, full cup, and strapless. Knowing what’s right for you is key to having your ‘just right’ Goldilocks moment in the bra department.
‘Most women can wear a full cup or strapless,’ says Julia, ‘but if you have a small frame along with close cleavage, a plunge will fit you better.’
When buying a plunge bra, try leaning forward to check if your breasts fall out of the cups. This will help you to determine if you’ve found the right fit.
For those with wider shoulders and a gap between your breasts, it’s best to go for a balconette for the most comfort.
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