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The Importance of Correct Breast Support

by Lynn Young(more info)

listed in bodywork, originally published in issue 68 - September 2001

That 'most women wear the wrong size bra' has almost become a cliché. Women today should be very aware that wearing the wrong bra size can cause all sorts of medical problems, not to mention psychological problems.

Having a bra fitted properly, with advice and personal fitting should be the answer.

Imagine some of these symptoms – you may recognize them: backache, shoulder pain, neck ache, tender, aching bust, soreness under bust, grooves in shoulders, and bad posture because you either have too much bust or not enough. 'We are never happy with our lot.' These are just a few of the very real problems that can be put right with a good bra.

Let me first explain the advantages of a correct fit: no more soreness under the bust, pulling the back down, lifting the shoulder swaps and popping back in what has flowed out, making four boobs. Most women have these problems.

Having the correct fit can make larger women look smaller and small-busted women bigger; that has to be a bonus.


Breast-Related Health Problems

Operations around the bust area include mastectomy, lumpectomy, implants, bust reductions, to name a few. These problems all have to be fitted with a bra around the area that has scars. Although touching the scarring cannot be avoided, a firm bra made of soft material can lessen the discomfort. When someone has a hiatus hernia and says, "I can't stand anything tight", there is a very fine line between firm and tight. If the bra is loose then it will ride up the back and cut in under the bust, hence the feeling of tightness, so the lady picks up the next size bigger and the problem is made worse. So the firmer the bra the better the uplift, taking the weight off of the ribcage. A lot of upper back problems can be avoided by having a firm back band down under the shoulder blades in a straight line with the front, supporting the breast and giving better posture. Once you have established the firm fit of the band then you address the cup size. Have you double bumps in the front? Is it too baggy? Does it rub under your arms and does the under-wire feel comfortable?

Different Bras for Different Shapes

There must not be a gap at the top of the bra, as that means the cup is too big; just as there must not be an overflow, as that means the cup is too small. Of course, even if you get all this right and correct, some styles of bra just won't suit you.

Some women with a firm breast like a balconette style; others with softer skin (and that can be a lady of any age) find that a full cup is so much more secure. Many women have one breast larger than the other, usually the left breast. Most women wouldn't know they had this problem, but in some cases there is a big difference in size. With careful fitting, the problem can be solved. Also, some young girls develop more quickly on one side than the other; this can be hereditary. Plunge bras also have their place in the wardrobe to give that certain look to an outfit, but they still need to be the right fit.

Lots of women suffer badly with breast pain before a period and also during the menopause. A properly fitting, supportive bra can help very much. Everyday activities such as lifting, running, bending, pulling and pushing can all cause a problem in the bra area if the fitting is not correct.

If women took half as much care of their breasts as they do their feet, we would have a nation of better postured and more confident women. No woman buys a pair of shoes without trying them on first, so why does everyone think that they are 36B or C and pick up the same size bra time and time again?

Special Problems Affecting the Breast

Women can go up and down in cup size within a month. A lot of women try to lose weight; others are on medication and their weight balloons and so do their breasts. During pregnancy, a woman's bust explodes at around two to three months and then possibly at around six to seven months, so fitting at these stages when she knows her bra size is wrong is most important. That is why midwives cover themselves by recommending a non-underwired bra because they know that a wire in a badly fitted bra causes damage to glands in the bust, but if the lady is aware of this and is fitted correctly there is no problem.

Of course feeding bras are a very important fitting at about two to three weeks before the baby is born, giving just enough room for lactation and the ability to go down in the back when the bump is gone.

When dealing with the elderly, lots of problems and different thoughts occur with all the ailments they have to endure.

For instance, osteoporosis needs a special back support bra, one where the straps don't slip off and which is front-fastening. All types of corsetry, such as corselets, girdles, etc., have to be discussed with the elderly customer to see if she really can cope with dressing and undressing herself, because independence is very important. Some women still need to wear steels and hook-side bust fronts and laces; these are still available for those that can cope with them. Unfortunately, as the strength in the hand and arms lessens, it becomes very difficult to gain any support from the garment because it can't be done up properly. Some people find they can't have a support around the tummy area because of a problem, but the right support, be it ever so gentle, could make all the difference in the world to the person's life and comfort. Even maternity belts can be used for supporting hernias.

Sports bras can be used for all sorts of reasons, not just bungee jumping! If a lady has had bust problems they can be very supportive or just comfortable for gardening, golf, walking, or any activity.

I feel very passionate about the correct fitting of underwear for women of all sizes. Whether a size 10 or a size 30, a lady with the correct fit can be very attractive and smart, which in turn gives her more confidence. With this confidence she can wear clothes she wouldn't have dreamed of before.
I started in the lingerie trade 15 years ago. In those days, customers were persuaded by the big stores to buy everything from little Johnny's socks, the husband's underpants and something for tea all in one basket. Oh and then a pretty bra in 36B (doesn't matter if it fits or not, we can always take it back and get a refund). Ten years ago I opened my own shop because I was so incensed by incorrect fittings. About that time lingerie came to the forefront of advertising almost like a boom and women started to get more particular. Bigger sizes started to be made and fitting became more important.

I hope women will take notice and more care of themselves.


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About Lynn Young

Lynn Young is the proprietor of the lingerie shop Perfect Fit in Keynsham, near Bristol. She can be reached on Tel: 0117-986 0950;

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