There can be a number of reasons why you may be experiencing pain in your shoulder area, but did you know that for many women it is common to have shoulder pain caused by bra straps?
Unfortunately, most women can’t avoid the need for bras, but there are ways to relieve pain and help your shoulders be stress-free.
Since bra straps fit over the shoulder, often they can contribute to both localized pain in the shoulder area as well as other forms of pain like headaches.
Often this is because nerves in the areas around the shoulders and chest start to feel pressure because of tight bras.
In severe cases, this can lead to mobility problems with the shoulder’s joints. However, bras that are too large can also mean that you are not receiving the right amount of support, which can lead to poor posture and related back problems.
A common problem for women is indentation and marks left from bra straps. These can vary in severity and pain, but will most often indicate that something isn’t right with your bra.
How to find the right fit
The most crucial thing to do when trying to reduce shoulder pain caused by bras is to make sure that your bras fit you appropriately.
This isn’t just a matter of making sure you can fasten your bra, but rather finding the right fit and style for your body and breast shape.
Studies have shown that over 75% of women don’t wear correctly fitting bras, one of the major contributors to chronic shoulder pain.
Support: While “over the shoulder boulder holder” may be one way of thinking about a bra, it is important to make sure that your shoulders aren’t actually doing any of the heavy lifting.
For optimal support, you want to make sure that your bra’s band underneath the breasts is carrying most of the weight, not the straps.
If you often find that you have indentations from bra straps digging into your shoulder, it may be time to try a smaller size band for more support.
Check the straps: Since most bras have adjustable straps, it’s possible that you need to loosen your bra straps to reduce pressure.
It is easy to think that tighter bra straps equal more lift and control, but it is important to remember that the band is the one doing the support, not the shoulder straps.
Keep in mind that many women actually find that their bra straps are not the same lengths, so adjust for comfort, not for lift.
Get fitted: Many lingerie and clothing retailers will offer to give you a free bra fitting, where experts will help make recommendations based on your size, shape, and needs.
If you’ve never been properly measured before, it may be time to make sure you are wearing the right size bra.
For many women, shoulder pain can be due to ill-fitting bras, but there are a number of things you can do to help avoid future pain caused by your bra.
Not all breasts are created equal, and neither are all bras. It may be worth checking out other style options if you are continuously having problems with your bras, even if they fit right.
Full coverage cups: While these might not be the ideal style choice for all outfits, most tops will accommodate a fuller cup, which allows for all-over greater support. Particularly, for larger breasts, this can help ensure that weight is evenly balanced.
Types of straps: Even the types of straps that your bra has can affect shoulder pain. Particularly for women with larger chests, a wider bra strap may help to balance support so that your shoulders aren’t bearing all the weight.
It goes without saying, smaller straps – particularly those with lace or other design elements – will likely dig into your shoulders more than wider ones.
Balconette vs. plunge: Bras come in all different styles, and some will work better for certain body shapes.
Balconettes lift from the bottom, which is a good choice for those with broader shoulders.
On the other hand, narrow-shouldered women may prefer a plunge style, that focuses more on pushing breasts together.
Skip everyday fancy for comfort: While many bras and lingerie companies may have plenty of lacey and embellished bra options that look beautiful on models, these may not actually be your best choice for everyday bras.
Try and find something that is of a simpler style, to make sure that you are not adding any additional pain and also to make sure that the focus is on fit, not a fancy style.
Other options to reduce shoulder pain
While making changes to the wrong bra style or fit are essential to making sure that you are receiving optimal support, there are some other changes you can make that will also help reduce your shoulder pain.
Regular exercise can help your entire body feel better and will help to keep excess fat from adding additional stress to your shoulders.
Know when it’s time to say goodbye: If you’re just starting to feel shoulder pain but you wear your favorite bra that fits you perfectly, it may be time to replace it.
After time bras can use their elasticity, which means that they won’t work as well after tons of wear and washing.
Swapping out your old bra for a new one may be the simplest fix to reducing future pain.
Shoulder pads: No need to pull out your 1980s clothes, there are plenty of options today to purchase shoulder pads that can go under your bra strap to help cushion the shoulder.
This will help with your bra leaving any marks and will cut down on the amount of pressure on your shoulders.
Take it off: Bras are meant to support breasts against the pull of gravity, helping to relieve the strain they can place on the back.
Therefore, skip sleeping in your bra or wearing it on occasions where you don’t need to be, as this will help give your shoulders a break.
Watch this helpful YouTube video about the bra strap shoulder exercise.