Published On: Tue, Apr 7th, 2015

Your bra might really be killing you

woman-bra-740If you’ve ever heard a woman complain that her bra is killing her, she may be closer to the mark than you think. New research shows that an ill-fitting bra can actually make you physically ill.

A recent survey conducted by bra manufacturer Triumph revealed that 76 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra, a habit that can have serious health consequences, according to experts.

Included in the litany of woes that can be caused by a badly fitted bra are skin irritations; reduced blood flow affecting the nerves and contributing to tension headaches; pinched nerves; neck, shoulder, middle and low back pain; breathing problems; digestive problems; Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and more.

Physiotherapist Sammy Margo, spokesperson for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, told Britain’s Daily Mail: “I often find a direct link between my female patients’ back, neck and postural problems — and their bras.

“If a bra is too tight, it can create pressure on the nerves, muscles and blood vessels around the shoulders, upper back and rib cage, leading to pain, headaches, and even constant pins and needles in the arms.”

Over time, too tight bra straps can start to squash the acromioclavicular joint at the top of the shoulder, affecting its range of movement and the function of the arm, along with constant pain.

But if you thought it was just too small bras that you have to worry about, think again. Bras that are too loose and cups that are too roomy can cause just as many problems, the Mail reports.

“Wearing a bra that doesn’t support the breasts efficiently can lead to postural problems, such as rounded or hunched shoulders, as the woman will naturally sit and stand awkwardly to compensate for her unsupportive, ill-fitting bra,” Margo explained.

“If your cup size is a C or larger, the problems with wearing a loose, unsupportive bra can be even worse. Larger, poorly supported breasts will sit on the rib cage, putting pressure on the diaphragm, which can cause you breathing problems.

“The weight of the breasts combined with poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle can even exacerbate digestive problems, such as heartburn and IBS.”

Tight bra straps can also have painful consequences.

“The most common misconception of all about bras is that the straps are there to hold up our breasts,” Marks & Spencer’s top bra fitting expert Julia Mercer told the Mail.

“Very few women realise that they are actually the least important part of the bra. In fact, nearly all the support a bra offers should come from the band that runs around the rib cage and the bra cups. The straps are just there to hold everything else in position.”

Tight straps can place enormous pressure on the shoulders, cutting into the flesh and pulling the shoulders and spine forward, causing pressure on nerves and even affecting shoulder flexibility. Cervicogenic headaches — headaches linked to the neck muscles and joints — are common, too, according to the Mail report.

Previous research led by Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon of the University of Besançon in eastern France found that wearing a bra could affect the way breasts will look in the future.

Instead of letting them breathe naturally, Roullin found that study participants who wore a bra during a 15-year study period had saggier breasts and it helped little to ease back pain.

“Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” Rouillon said, according to The Daily Mail. “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”

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