Any good bra fitter will tell you that most women don’t wear the correct bra size. New figures from The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) reveal that as many as 70-80 per cent of women still wear the wrong bra size and many choose not to wear a sports bra while exercising.
With monthly water retention cycles, dieting and general ageing, it cannot be assumed that the size you were two years ago is the same size you are today (or that a bra can be worn that long, for that matter).
Chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo advises, “If you’re planning on splashing out on new lingerie, undergo a professional fitting to help find the best bra for your shape.
“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, pinched nerve in the neck and sagging breasts – not a pretty picture.”
Physiotherapists are also urging women to check their size before they buy a sports bra to help prevent discomfort from exercise and premature sagging of the breasts that only surgery can reverse.
Margo adds, “Sports bras are essential for all women, especially those with a C-cup and above. Breasts are suspended by ligaments that will stretch from bouncing if not held firmly in position. If you are well endowed, an ill-fitting, unsupportive bra can cause you to slump and fold your shoulders forward, and lead to painful postural disorders.”
By taking the steps to ensure your bra fits correctly, you can make a big difference to your appearance, posture and self-confidence. CSP and Sammy Margo have teamed up to offer advice on how to avoid the common ‘booby traps’:
Ill-fitting bra straps can pull or press on your trapezius muscles, which run along the neck and back, and can cause pain and discomfort.
If you are finding bra straps uncomfortable, placing a shoulder pad under the straps can help evenly distribute the weight of your breasts over the shoulder. If your bra straps fall down, tighten them or change the bra.
Manually position your breasts in the cups to ensure they both sit fully supported and comfortably.
The bra band should be snug and not too tight; make good use of the hooks available. If you find the band rides up, loosen the straps.
Lift your arms up, bend down and jump to see if the bra and breasts stay in place.
If you find spillage over, under or at the sides, you will need to re-assess the cup and possibly the band size.
Evaluate bounce control and put on your top to see if the bra looks good. Pick fabrics that are comfortable.
The centrepiece of underwire bras should sit flat against your chest and the wire should rest under your bust. There should be no gaps.
Bra styles and brands vary. When trying on bras, wear them for about five minutes to assess comfort and fit.
Many department stores offer a free professional bra fitting service, as do lingerie shops. Make use of these services to help find the right bra for you. If you have postural problems and are heavy busted, pay a visit to a chartered physiotherapist to get a postural assessment.
CSP have produced a free leaflet which includes details on how to check your bra size and exercises to keep your breasts supported. To get your free copy of the factsheet, log on to www.csp.org.uk or call 020 7306 6666.