It’s time to talk about your two breast friends. Because if you choose to wear a bra you need and deserve to find the perfect fit! Trust me, your health will thank you.
Your underwear does a heck of a lot more than make you feel pretty. It has a massive impact on your physical well-being. And knowing how your bra can affect your health and how to find the right fit can be totally life changing.
But it isn’t always easy! So how can we avoid unnecessary pain and find the right bra?
A professional bra fitting can make all the difference. And once you have the right fit you’ll never want to go back!
So let’s take a look at why a good fitting bra is so important for your health and how you can find the right fit:
You’re Probably Wearing the Wrong Bra Size
I’m not one to gamble, but if I had to put money down on something it would be that most my bra wearing readers are in the wrong size! And, for the most part, I would probably be right. Because approximately 80% of all women aren’t wearing the right bra size! Isn’t that bonkers?! (source)
And that adds up to a whole lot more than simple discomforts. Wearing the wrong bra size can have some serious affects on your physical health.
So I teamed up with the wonderful ladies at Elle Mio, a local Bra Fitting Boutique, to shed some light on this incredibly common issue and help you find the right fit.
Why a Professional Bra Fitting at Elle Mio is So Wonderful
(A little peek inside the Elle Mio Fredericton location – Photo by Tracy Arsenault)
Elle Mio is an awesome company here in New Brunswick, Canada with two convenient locations. Whether you’re in Fredericton or Moncton you’re going to get incredible, precise and professional services from certified bra fitters. And they are dedicated to finding you the perfect fit and making you feel fantastic.
Owned and operated by Ronda Daigle, a nurse with over 25 years of experience fitting bras, her team provides a professional bra fitting service you won’t find anywhere else.
Elle Mio even has certified mastectomy fitters on staff that are happy to help with your post-mastectomy needs. From breast prostheses, to swimwear, to night wear and more, Elle Mio will help you find what you’re looking for.
They carry premium brands like Prima Donna, Fantasie, Elomi, Blush, Chantelle, Marie Jo, Wacoal, Calvin Klein and Olga and a full line of Amoena breast forms and mastectomy products.
And, my favourite part, they’re more than happy to teach you about how a bra should fit along the way. Join them on Facebook right here and visit them for a professional fitting today.
Here’s why they truly want to help you find the right fit:
4 Ways An Ill-Fitting Bra Affects Your Health
If you choose to wear a bra it’s so incredibly important that you find the right fit for you. This simple garment has a powerful impact on your physical health.
Let’s take a peek at what can happen when your bra doesn’t fit well.
1. Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain
An ill-fitting bra can literally be a pain in the neck and lead to some serious physical distress.
According to Richard Moore, Principal Osteopath at Moore Osteopathy, back, neck and shoulder pain is a really common problem.
“On many occasions I have been able to link women’s back and neck complaints directly to badly-fitted bras that not only offer limited or no support but create visible problems in posture, resulting in pain and tension” (source)
And physiotherapist Sammy Margo agrees:
“Wearing the wrong bra size not only looks bad but also puts you at risk of various health problems. It can lead to neck, shoulder, middle and low back pain (and) pinched nerves in the neck […] not a pretty picture” (source)
And since neck, back and shoulder pain are some of the most common reasons for breast reduction surgery (and seriously no fun for anyone) it’s so important that we prevent this whenever possible. A properly fitting bra can make a world of difference. (source)
Why is this happening?
One of the most common mistakes that people make when trying to find a bra is assuming that the straps are meant to provide support and lift. And this is a huge problem, because when you tighten up those straps like crazy you’re actually putting a whole lot of pressure on your shoulders.
Specifically we’re compressing the trapezius muscles, which sit atop of our shoulders. Putting them under persistent pressure and strain causes them to tighten and spasm. Which is a big reason why our neck, shoulders and back start to ache. (source)
The truth is that 90% of the support of a bra is actually in the band! Not the straps. But it can only support you if it’s snug. When it fits well it actually takes the pressure off of your shoulders. Which is pretty wonderful, don’t you agree?
If the idea of a snug band sounds a little scary, don’t you worry! We’re not talking so tight you can’t breath (that can cause health problems too). You should feel incredibly comfortable in a well fitting bra. In fact, it’s often a huge relief on your shoulders. And that means good things for your neck and back as well.
2. Pinched Nerves
Our Osteopath friend Richard Moore definitely wants to make sure that we stop putting our straps so tight.
“Overly tight straps not only cause skin irritations but reduce blood flow, affecting the nerves and contribute to tension headaches.” (source)
As if back, shoulder and neck pain weren’t enough, we get to add skin irritation, reduced blood flow, pinched nerves and headaches to the mix. Tight straps are seriously bad news my friends.
And it doesn’t get better. According to Dr. Melissa Lem, a Toronto-based family physician, wearing your straps too tight for a long period of time increases your risk of thoracic outlet syndrome (source). This disorder can causes weakness, burning and tingling sensations in your arms and hands.
Thoracic outlet syndrome happens because those tight straps put pressure on a bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus. This awesome group of nerves control muscle movements and sensations in your shoulders, arms and hands. So it’s incredibly important that we’re kind to them and don’t subject them to too much pressure. (source)
All the more reason to get a professional bra fitting, am I right?
3. Chaffing and Skin Irritation
When your bra fits well it stays in place. And that’s awesome, because a bra that moves around is not kind to your skin. Tight straps can also do a number on us and cause skin irritation too.
Suzanne Pentland, a professional bra fitter from Freya Lingerie tells us why:
“Your bra should not move throughout the day. The band should be firm enough to sit in place but if it’s too big, your bra will move and this causes rubbing on the skin, which can cause irritation.” (source)
This irritation can be mild, like leaving marks on your skin, or more extreme, like causing blisters or sores. But no matter how mild or extreme it may be, it’s absolutely unnecessary. And totally avoidable when our bras fit right.
Yet another reason why we should all add a professional bra fitting to our to-do this! When your bra doesn’t fit well (and remember, around 80% of us are in the wrong size) you may get more frequent headaches.
Tim Allardyce, a physiotherapist and osteopath and the clinical director at Surrey Physio in the UK had this to say about bras and headaches:
“A poorly fitting bra offers a lack of support to the cleavage, which then means the neck and upper back muscles are having to work harder to support the weight of the breasts. As soon as the neck muscles become overworked, you are far more likely to get headaches (known as cervicogenic headaches, or neck in origin headaches).” (source)
All of which can thankfully be avoided when we find the right fit!
Why So Many Women Are in the Wrong Size
It’s absolutely shocking to know that approximately 80% of woman are wearing the wrong bra size. That’s a seriously high statistic! Here are a few reasons why:
There’s No Industry Sizing Standard
That’s right! We’re all led to believe that we can take a few measurements and bam! Now we know our bra size. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Companies don’t talk to each other when they design bras. A 36D in one brand or style might not be at all the same as a 36D in another. The whole idea that we are represented by one size no matter the brand or style does an incredible disservice to women. It’s a huge reason why a lot of us are dealing with so much discomfort.
And it’s not always just a small difference. To give you a real life example, I can wear anything from a 32FF to a 32H at Elle Mio. Sometimes I even end up in a 30 band. It seriously just depends on the brand and the style.
This is why you should absolutely take advantage of professional bra fitting services.
They know the brands they carry and how their sizes match up. Plus, they know exactly how a bra should fit. They’re there to help you find something that works perfectly for your shape so you can leave feeling beautiful and comfortable as can be.
The Way We Measure Bra Size is Outdated
You know that whole bra measuring system where you measure around your ribs, add 4 or 5 inches (depending on the measurement) and then measure your bust and calculate the difference to get your cup size? That just doesn’t work!
The obvious reason why is because of what we just learned; there’s no industry sizing standard, so this one size fits all brands idea is just plain wrong. But there’s another reason why this is so outdated.
That system was invented in the 1950’s. Back then bras were usually made out of silk or satin and had little to no give. So we had to add 4 inches to our measurements to make sure that there was a little wiggle (and breathing) room. But, as you can imagine, things have changed a whole heck of a lot since then! (source)
Today bras have an elastic in them, which makes them stretchy. The wiggle room is already built in. And I can’t stress this enough – you do not want your band to be too loose.
As we now know, 90% of the support in a bra is in the band. It takes the pressure away from your shoulders and makes sure that your bra supports you and stays still. Which also prevents all of those unpleasant health issues, like pain, headaches, chaffing and nerve damage.
And yet, the way that most of us measure our bra size puts us at risk. This often lands us in the wrong band and cup.
A good professional bra fitting specialist doesn’t stick with measurements. They fit you. Meaning that they take the time to try different styles and sizes to see what works best for you and your beautiful, unique shape. Measurements simply provide a starting point. But the truly important thing is that the bra actually fits.
Our Understanding of Cup Size is All Wrong
(Some of the goodies you’ll find at Elle Mio – Photo by Tracy Arsenault)
Quick! Tell me what comes to mind when I mention Double D’s? Large breasts right? That’s what Ludacris had me thinking back in high school (am I showing my age?)
But what if I told you that a 30DD and a 40DD were completely different cup sizes? It’s true! In fact, a 40DD is 5 cup sizes bigger than a 30DD. So we really can’t say that they’re the same cup size at all.
But wait – there’s more! What if I also told you that a 38A was actually the same size in the cup at a 30DD? Because they totally are! They have the exact same cup volume, even though one is an A and one is a DD. The true difference is the band size.
Cup sizes are all relative to their band size. So not all A cups are the same (or B cups, or C cups… you get my meaning). (source)
It’s so easy to get attached to numbers and cups sizes. But I urge you to forget about that and really just focus on how your bra feels. The right fit is supportive and comfortable. It really doesn’t matter what band or cup size it is if it fits you well and feels amazing!
This is another reason why a professional bra fitting with certified fitters like those found at Elle Mio makes a huge difference! With no industry sizing standard, an outdated measuring system and cup size depending on band sizes it’s so easy to feel lost. A professional bra fitting specialist is there to help!
How a Bra Should Fit
There are a lot of factors that go into finding the right fitting bra for you. But here are a few key points to look out for:
1. Your band should be snug.
The band provides 90% of the support, and it can’t do this if it’s too loose. There should only be enough space to fit two fingers between the band and your back. And it should stay parallel from front to back. If your band is ridding up your back it’s too loose.
Which brings me to an important point – since your band needs to be snug to support you it’s absolutely normal to have a little spillover. It’s inevitable that most if us will have a little bit of a line.
We’re putting an elastic around our body and asking it to hold the weight of our breasts after all. It can’t magically float on you and do that. It has to hold you. (But it shouldn’t squeeze you so tight that you feel awful). (source)
2. The band on your new bra should be on the loosest hook.
Since your band provides 90% of the support in your bra and needs to be snug in order to do so you absolutely want it to be on the loosest hook when you buy it. As it stretches you can tighten it up for continued support.
Bra makers say that the elastic in a perfectly fitting bra would only last 6 months if you wore it every day. When you’re already on the tightest hook on a new bra you’ve cut it’s life super short. Which is, in my opinion, a waste of your hard earned money.
3. Your straps shouldn’t dig into your shoulders.
The most common mistake that people make is wearing their bands too loose and tightening their straps like crazy to get a lift. But, as you just learned, tight straps can cause unpleasant health issues and pain. If your straps dig in they’re too tight and your band is probably too loose. A professional bra fitting can help to narrow down the issue.
4. The centre of your bra should sit on your chest wall
The bra’s centrepiece is meant to sit flat against your rib cage. It divides your breasts into each individual cup so that they can be held and supported. If it’s sticking out and your breasts aren’t in the cups then your cup is too small.
This usually leads to a lot of uncomfortable moments, like falling out of your cups when you bend down to get something (I think we’ve all been there – no fun at all). And can be a factor in chaffing and skin irritation.
5. There shouldn’t be any spillover or big empty spaces in the cup.
The right cup for you shouldn’t be wrinkly (if it’s a soft cup) or have a big empty space inside (if it’s molded). That would likely mean that it’s too big. You should fill out the cup nicely. On the same note you shouldn’t spill over the cup either. If that’s the case it’s too small.
How a Professional Bra Fitting Can Help
When you’re looking for the right fit you want to find the Goldilocks zone. It should be just right. And since every woman is shaped differently and there’s no industry sizing standard it can take a few tries to find the right bra(s) for you. A professional bra fitting can really help to remove a lot of the confusion.
On top of that, pain and discomfort is not ok! We don’t have to resign ourselves to the idea that bras are uncomfortable and that’s just the way that it is. Health issues caused by ill-fitting bras are 100% preventable. It’s totally worth it to work with a professional bra fitting specialist and ultimately support your well-being.
If we choose to wear a bra we deserve to wear something that fits us well and makes us feel amazing.
Professional bra fitters like the amazing women found at Elle Mio in Moncton and Fredericton are there to help! Take advantage of their services and your well-being will thank you!
Our health is our wealth. It’s up to us to make it a priority. And ensuring that we’re wearing the right fitting bras is, surprisingly, a big part of that. Consider it a wonderful form of self care that not only supports your physical health but makes you look damn good!
Have you ever had a professional bra fitting? Are you excited to go get one asap? Were you surprised to learn about the health problems associated with bras or the reasons why we’re often wearing the wrong size? Share all of your lovely thoughts in the comments bellow!
Health and love,
Thought of the day: The smallest things can often have the biggest impact.
This awesome post on bras and health was kindly sponsored by Elle Mio.
Treat yourself to their incredible, professional bra fitting services at their two convenient locations:
Moncton New Brunswick
735 Main Street, Suite 102
Phone: (506) 855-4836
Fredericton New Brunswick
85 York Street
Phone: (506) 459-1277
Halifax Nova Scotia
1496 Lower Water Street, Suite 107
Phone: (902) 453-0604