If the first thing you do after work is liberate your boobs from their lacy cage, know that you are definitely not alone. We all want to be comfortable, and bras — along with the likes of tight jeans and itchy underwear — often don't make the list of clothes worth wearing at home. But if taking yours off has become the highlight of your day, there's a really good chance you're wearing the wrong bra.
When you're in the habit of wearing undergarments that are the wrong size and style, you'll likely notice that your bra straps dig into your shoulders, the band squeezes your back, and the underwire pokes at your chest. But you might also notice that you've been getting headaches, backaches, or that you've been short of breath — all of which would make anyone want to take their bra off ASAP.
If you want to wear a bra, however, or feel like you have to (because you certainly don't), trying a new style or size can truly be life-changing. "A bra that fits you correctly, and is the right size and shape, will allow the body to function at its maximum potential," chiropractor Dr. Rubina Tahir, DC tells Bustle. So, what should you look for whilst out shopping?
"The band should rest at the bottom of your shoulder blades, and all of your breast tissue should fit in the cup, with no spillage in the front or back behind the wire," says bra fitting expert Julia Mastalski. Once you find one that fits, you'll spare yourself some of the symptoms below. Read on for a few physical signs you're not wearing the right bra.
1You Have Pain Or Irritation Under Your Breasts
If you ever get a line under your boobs — especially if it's red, itchy, or irritated — it could mean something's up with the underwire in your bra. "It could simply be that your bras are old and the fabric overlying the underwire has worn thin, leaving this sensitive area of skin exposed to the underwire," board-certified diagnostic radiologist Dr. Nina Watson, tells Bustle. She also says it could mean your underwire doesn't fit your chest properly and is moving around too much, causing friction.
2The Straps Are Digging Into Your Shoulders
You might think shoulder indentions are par for the course when it comes to wearing a bra, but that's just isn't true. If your shoulders hurt, or you have lines long after taking off your bra, it's a sign you're relying on the straps for support, when you really want to get that from the band, Mastalski says.
3You Have To Readjust Your Bra Throughout The Day
If you pull and tug and readjust your bra throughout the day, Mastalski says there could be one of three problems going on. "A, the style could be wrong, B, the cups might be too small or too big, or C, the band is too big," she says. A proper bra fitting can help you address all three issues.
4There's Too Much Jiggling
The right bra will cradle your boobs throughout the day, so you can comfortably run up and downstairs with ease. But if you're getting too much movement (read: jiggle) your bra definitely isn't offering enough support, Mastalski says. She suggests finding a bra that encapsulates your boobs — such as a sports bra with an underwire — instead of one that just compresses them.
5Your Cups Are Spilling Over
Do you have more boob out of your bra than in your bra? "If you have quad-boob, you're definitely wearing the wrong size bra," Soraya Pena Hennessy, a fashion and travel blogger, tells Bustle. "If you notice you're a bit too big, try moving up a cup size." This will offer more support, less movement, and a smoother look under your clothes.
6The Band Is Squeezing Your Back
If your bra strap is squeezing the life out of your back, "you are wearing your band too high up or too tight," Mastalski says. Remember, the band is where the actual support comes from, so it's important to choose the right size. And tighter doesn't always mean better. If your bra is squeezing your back, you might need to find a more supportive style, with a thicker band.
7Your Ribs And Back Have Been Aching
If your ribs literally ache after wearing a bra, take it as a sign you need to try something new. "As a chiropractor it is common for me to treat women with aching ribs and mid-back pain all from wearing a bra that isn’t the right fit," says Rubina.
8You Can't Move Around Freely
Your bra should help you, not hinder you. So take note if you can't move around without the straps and band slipping all over the place. "When you raise your arms, twist, bend over, move, etc., your band should stay in place," Ashley West, Vanity Fair merchandising manager, tells Bustle. "When the band rides up, that means the straps are too tight!"
9You Have Really Bad Posture
If your shoulders droop forward, or your back is constantly curved and slouched, it could be due to a lack of support from your bra, Nicola Rodney-Crook, CEO of GetBras.com, tells Bustle. Finding the right bra will help pull everything into place, and thus help you sit up straight.
10You've Been Getting Headaches
While there are so many things that can cause headaches, an ill-fitting bra is definitely one of them. "Because of a lack of support, your upper body muscles work harder," Rodney-Crook says. "When your muscles are under strain for longer periods it can cause a form of headache."
11You've Noticed Some Stretching Or Sagging
It's totally normal for your boobs to stretch and sag. But if it seems to be happening rapidly, it could be due to an ill-fitting bra. "Bouncing with little support from a wrongly fitting bra can cause irreversible sagging and stretching of the Cooper’s ligament," says Rodney-Crook. "This is the ligament that is attributed to breast sagging, [and] once stretched can not be reversed." You can keep your ligaments healthier, though, by wearing the right bra going forward.
12You've Had Shortness Of Breath
Tight bras can lead to shortness of breath, too. "An incorrect fitting bra reduces your chest movement, and that can restrict how effectively your breathing performs," says Rodney-Crook. "Especially if you have an active lifestyle."
13You Overheat & Feel Sweaty Easily
Whether it's due to a super tight band — thus causing restricted breathing — or some other fit issue, the wrong bra even has the potential to make you feel sweaty and overheated, Rodney-Crook says. And that's just not worth it.
14Your Neck Has Been Aching
If your bra isn't putting in the work, the rest of your body may start to compensate to help support your chest. "Some customers hold [their] breast weight by taking excess support through the neck area, causing painful neck muscles," says Rodney-Crook.
15You've Recently Gone Through A Change
If you've been pregnant, or have had surgery on your breasts, it's likely time for a new bra. "You may need new bras whenever your body goes through a change," Erin Landon, vice president of merchandising for Soma, tells Bustle. "All of these events will affect how your bra fits, the support that you need, and how comfortable it feels." Because your bras really should be comfortable.
If you'd like to wear one, keep those fit tips in mind, or ask for help from a professional bra fitter. Once you find the right size and shape for you, it can make a world of difference in how you feel.