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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is your Bra killing you?

One of the more common statements by women who seek my advice is along the lines of: “My back and shoulders are killing me!”

While there are usually several things going on that are contributing to this discomfort, the bra is often one of the main culprits. Usually that culprit bra is good “Old Faithful” – that dearly beloved frilly bra that has served her owner so faithfully for 20 years. Her owner has put on some girth and Old Faithful is now a faded and ragged remnant - and the under-wire is hanging out.
Why change? There is a kind of emotional attachment, like a well worn security blanket. A comfortable sense of security that is less than perfect; but acceptable. A bit like a reliable husband who has long lost interest in her undergarments – not perfect, a bit worn – but reliable.
Some bras I encounter are so tight I marvel at the engineering that must have gone into designing those tiny clips that prevent the device’s pressurised contents from bursting forth! The owner was obviously several dress sizes less at the time of its first fitting. Another problem is the chest and shoulder straps may be too narrow, garrotting the trunk and even the tops of the shoulders. With the underwire, one could imagine it being the perfect tool for an underworld assassin!
Take a look at these photographs: They show some of the damage being caused to three women by bras. What you can see is the subtle indentation of the bra where it acts as a kind of tourniquet about the thorax (I prefer to describe it as a kind of leaky “beaver dam” that interrupts the normal flow of a pristine mountain stream). Because the blood and lymph flow goes upwards in that region of the body, the flesh above the bra line, as far up as the neck and shoulders, may show signs of a chronic lack of oxygen and nutrients and the build up of metabolic toxins. The body’s response to these metabolic poisons is to dilute the area with water, causing a podgy appearance and even a thickened hump at the base of the neck (Sometimes called a “Dowager’s Hump”). The area under the breast, where the underwire bites into the flesh may be thickened and painful. This is unhealthy. Of course, there are varying degrees of pain and fatigue affecting the back neck, shoulders and even the arms. While it takes very little tightness of a bra to affect blood and lymph flow, it has surprised me at times just how tight a bra can be. How on Earth can a person breathe properly with such a restrictive band about the chest?

Feel great – burn your bra!

While I am not an expert on such matters, the solution is hardly rocket science: Get rid of that old bra and replace it with one that fits properly. I advise women to go to a specialist store that has a “bra expert” and get a proper fitting (I assume there are such places and people). I think the best design to investigate is the sports bra which has broad straps that support the breasts without biting into the flesh and an elastic chest strap which allows unrestricted inflation of the lungs.
Yes, there are specialists in bras with Wellington even having its very own official “Bra Lady”, Luella Plimmer, who can be contacted via here.
A broad strap sports bra may be much better when hiking with a back pack. Other than the better support it gives during exercise, the broader, flatter shoulder straps are less likely to bite painfully into the shoulder muscles when the weight of the backpack is on the shoulders. If there is biting, then even a light weight will cause neck and shoulder pain and poor circulation to the arms and hands.
If a woman is losing or gaining weight, the bra sizing should be progressively adjusted accordingly just as one does with tight jeans.
Take the bra off when relaxing about the house, even if it is entirely comfortable, because it takes only a little pressure on the body to interfere with the blood and lymph flow.
If you have been wearing a restrictive bra and have pain in your upper body and shoulders with a build-up of fluid under the skin, then several once a week massages by a trained masseur will help ease the muscle tension, shift the stagnant fluid and get normal flows going again.
For the latest article on this topic, go here

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I loathe underwire bras and have friends who even buy wire-less bras for me in Australia - they are so hard to get here - especially ones which are not sports ones or huge for breat-feeding or clunky styles. The wires hurt my ribs and that flows round to back discomfort. Only time I use underwire ones is when I have to use strapless bras - no options available! Dawn