Wired: Is it time to re-think your bra?

Underwire bra’s – a help or a hindrance?  I was firmly in the help category – a nice underwire bra to keep those babies looking as pert and firm as they could, considering the ravages of time and breast-fed children.  And, since discovering the wonders of a properly fitted bra that looked fabulous, I was pretty much happy wearing bra’s. That was until I started by training as a Bowen therapist and began to really take a look at what was keeping my babies up.

Have you looked at the underwire in your bra – not just felt it, looked at it?  Check it out:

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This is not just a thin piece of wire, this is a very strong, thick piece of scaffolding.  At this point there are some that will start discussing underwire bra’s and cancer, but I don’t know enough about it, there is not a strong enough body of evidence that I can find, and I actually think it’s detracting from some more fundamental and basic issues about how wearing an underwire bra might affect women, and that don’t need science to prove them right or wrong.

Issue #1: The undue pressure it is exerting on your lymphatic system

If you don’t know anything about your lymphatic system, then I suggest you do some reading as it really is quite fascinating and VERY important to the functioning of your body. Basically your lymphatic system carries away toxins and debris, brings in important things like white blood cells, and helps us fight infection.  Most of you will have felt swollen glands around your neck – these are in fact swollen lymph nodes, and you have these nodes throughout your entire body, but more so where there are creases and movement.  There are a concentration of lymph nodes around the area of the breast, and yup, every time you wear an underwire bra you are potentially squashing those little nodes and the system that supports them.

Issue #2: Saggy boobs

The major muscle of the breast area is Pectoralis Major.  This is a muscle, a muscle.  I repeat this because it’s important.

Question for you: What happens when you don’t use a muscle?

Does it remain firm and pert? No it doesn’t, it gets saggy, floppy, and loses tone and strength, that is a scientific fact.  So, given that the breast is made of muscle, what do you think is going to happen to it if you effectively take any strain or tension from it by putting it in a sling to hold it up?  Yup, you got it, it’s going to get saggy, floppy and lose tone and strength.  The breast muscle is there for a purpose – if you didn’t wear a bra / wear a bra as much, who knows, you might lose some tone and strength due to ageing (only natural), but would they be as saggy as you think they are now???

Issue #3: Your boobs do not exist in isolation

Your boobs do not exist as a separate entity.  They are part of your entire body and so have an impact on your entire body, just as your entire body has an impact on them.  The Pectoralis Major is connected to your diaphragm, it’s connected to your shoulder, to your neck, to your upper arm, to your back and beyond via a whole heap of other muscles, tissue, and tendons.  Surely then the logic follows that if you are compressing this muscle with an underwire and / or an ill-fitting bra, and not allowing it to do it’s job properly, this is going to have a potential knock on effect to the rest of your body, leading to strains, aches and discomfort.

I’m honestly not saying get rid of bra’s, they are very useful things, all I’m asking is that maybe it’s time to have a re-think, and rather than listening to the old arguments about why you should wear an underwire bra, listen to your own body and what it is saying to you.  There are four really easy steps you can take:

Try and have some down-time.  Seriously.  Try not to wear a bra when you don’t need to.  It may feel weird at first, but you’ll get used to it and your body will thank you for it.

Make sure your bra fits you properly.  The University of Portsmouth has done some excellent research around breast health, and they claim that more than 70% of women in the UK wear the wrong bra size, which can lead to all sorts of health issues including back and shoulder pain, skin damage, bad posture and abrasions.  They have been researching breast health for more than 12 years so they know what they are talking about, and say you need to search for a bra that matches your fit, not your size.  For more information take a look at their helpful video showing you how to get your fit right click here.

Seriously consider bra’s without wires in.  Lots of outlets are now making beautiful bra’s with no wires in.  I fall into the mahoosive boob category and always felt that I needed underwire to support them, but not even my husband noticed when I changed from underwire to non wire.  Sure, there are some dresses and tops where I need to wear an underwire to get the fit right, but day to day I don’t.  And, this may be wishful thinking, but I really do feel as though the muscle tone in my breast has improved since spending more time in a non-wired bra.

Get to know your boobs.  This is slightly off topic, but it needs mentioning. Get to know your boobs – feel every inch of them, get to know them and love them so that when something is wrong you will know and can report any changes straight away to your GP.  Breast cancer can be treated really effectively if it is caught quick enough.  The charity Prevent Breast Cancer have some excellent information, as well as a leaflet, that you can download here.

So, if you do anything this month, devote a little time to what my mother calls ‘your breasty substance’, get to know them, learn to love them, and allow them to run free!

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© Gemma Correll
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