So what’s the big deal about getting a good bra, anyway?
Around half of the adult population have breasts, and yet the discussion around the importance of good support is lacking. We often find during our consultations that patients complaining of neck and shoulder pain are often wearing a poorly fitting bra that offers very little support. This can lead to poor posture and discomfort as the musculoskeletal system tries to compensate and stabilise.
Poorly fitting bras have also been shown to be a key reason why women don’t participate in exercise – unwanted bounce and breast/chest discomfort during exercise can be enough to cause people to drop out all together. And this is quite concerning – given that many women don’t get enough exercise to meet Australian guidelines for good health.
In Australia, a significant number of women are wearing the wrong bra size, which can lead to a variety of issues such as:
- chest and shoulder discomfort
- breast pain (mastalgia) – at rest or exercise induced
- poor posture
- neck pain and headache
- excessive breast movement – which importantly can lead to reduced participation in activity, especially exercise and sport -which we know is essential for good health!
- poor life-span of your bra
Some common ways in which bras fail us are:
- Chest strap too loose – which can lead to slippage of the chest strap upwards and breasts downwards
- Over-tightened shoulder straps (to fix the problem above) – which cuts into the shoulders and can contribute to pain and poor posture
- Wrong size cup – which can lead to compression and pain in breast tissue or spillage of tissue, or lack of proper support
- Low quality materials that lose their elasticity quickly and thus don’t support properly
So how do I know what makes a good bra?
- Good quality materials
- Straps with a non-elastic and an adjustable elastic component
- Appropriate cup structure and coverage
- A strong and sturdy chest strap with a well-formed gusset
- Appropriate number of hooks to support and distribute load across the chest
- Proper underwire size and fit (and did you know that underwires are NOT essential in a great fitting bra!)
What makes a good fit of bra?
The right fitting bra will be comfortable and remove strain from the neck and shoulders.
Did you know that the chest strap should carry around 80% of the bust weight, and the shoulder straps should carry around 20% of the bust weight, and mostly provide stability to the position of the bra. If you’re getting deep divits in your shoulders after wearing your bra – then likely your straps are carrying much more than 20% bust weight.
Another place women can go wrong with their bra fit is cup size. Cup size is related to chest strap size, rather than a specific volume, and that neither of these parameters are well standardised across different brands and manufacturers. For example 8D = size of an apple, whilst 22D = size of a rockmelon! This means that three different label sizes may all fit you well! To illustrate this an 8DD, 10D and 12C are all “sister sizes” that the same person could wear. The result of this is that you could potentially walk out of a shop with two or three different sized bras, which all fit you perfectly! Or you could be sticking to what you think is your size based on the numbers alone, without knowing how to sister-size and optimise your fit.
In combination with this – we learnt that the CORRECT FIT is the most IMPORTANT factor that makes a “good bra”. This means that a well constructed bra that is the wrong fit/size is as bad as a low quality bra.
How do I go about getting a good-fitting bra that is right for me?
- Get fitted by an expert – bewares the inexperienced retail assistant who has one day of “training” from a lingerie company
- Be wary of the bright and pretty “best selling” bras – they sell well because the marketing is excellent, not because the bra is of “best” quality
- Take time trying on different brands and consider the sister sizes
- Avoid the cheap fashion bras – especially the “bralette” trend at the moment
- Keep in mind the features listed above and make sure your purchases are well constructed
- If you’re busty, consider a sports bra for every day wear
Finding an expert fitter
We recommend that our clients make an appointment for a professional bra fitting at She Science, a specialty store located in Camberwell. Tish and her team only sell bras – and they know them in incredible detail. You must make an appointment, no walk-ins. You will get 1:1 attention and fitting, with an amazing range of bras that you will never have seen in the major retailers. It’s the best investment you can make into your breast and chest health!