The 11 Best Bras For Shoulder Pain — & What To Look For According To An Orthopedic Surgeon

Best Bras For Shoulder Pain

Plenty of factors contribute to upper-back discomfort, and in order to help me find the best bras for shoulder pain, I reached out to Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo, M.D., a New York-based spinal and orthopedic surgeon. According to Dr. Okubadejo, finding a comfortable and supportive bra comes down to the specific components of the bra. These are the pain-minimizing features you should be looking for if your shoulders often hurt:

  • Straps: The straps are arguably the most important component, as these are making direct contact with your shoulders. “If you have large breasts, thin straps are typically not a good idea because there is not enough support to carry the weight of the breasts,” Dr. Okubadejo wrote to Bustle. In other words, thicker, padded straps usually offer more support — and if you can’t “stack two fingers between the shoulder and strap,” they’re too tight.
  • Band: According to Dr. Okubadejo, “An incorrectly sized band puts too much emphasis on the straps and will lead to shoulder strain.” Consequently, you’ll want the band to be thick, highly elastic, and most importantly, the right size.
  • Cups: If your bra has the incorrect cup size, “your upper body muscles — such as your neck and shoulder — will have to work harder to support the weight of your breasts,” Dr. Okubadejo wrote. To avoid gapping, look for bras with a wide range of cup sizes, and opt for materials that mold to your breast shape. But again, make sure to measure before buying to ensure a perfect fit since all bodies are constantly changing.
  • Closure: When it comes to the classic hook-and-eye closure, look for one with plenty of tightness options, “so you have a snug fit without the band digging in,” Dr. Okubadejo wrote. It’s also suggested that you “wear it on the loosest hook” to start with. That said, some shoppers prefer a front-closure bra, which allows them to take the bra off and put it on with less strain.
  • Underwire: Finally, according to Dr. Okubadejo, “Underwire bras do provide more shape and support due to the wired structure,” since the wire helps “keep the pressure off your shoulders.” If you’re set on a wire-free bra, be sure that the other components are extra supportive.

The first three brands are direct recommendations from Dr. Okubadejo, and they check virtually all of the boxes mentioned above. After that, I used Dr. Okubadejo's guidelines to source a few more reviewer-approved bras that help relieve pain.

1. The Best Posture-Support Bra

The Glamorise MagicLift has all the right features, including gap-resistant cups, a wide, secure band, and thick padded straps — but its back is truly revolutionary. This bra has built-in support bands that pull your shoulders back and together, correcting your posture while you go about your day. It also secures at the front with hook-and-eye closures, and (unlike so many other front-close bras) you can choose between multiple settings for the best fit.

  • Available sizes: 36B — 58K

One reviewer wrote: “This bra actually fits perfectly and is very comfortable. The front hooks have not come undone at all... The racerback styling is wonderful at distributing the weight off my shoulders and back. I will definitely buy this bra again.

2. The Doctor-Recommended Wire-Free Bra

With its full cups, extra side and back support, and thick, padded straps, the Playtex 18-Hour line comes recommended by Dr. Okubadejo. The Ultimate Lift & Support wire-free bra in particular has earned an incredible 64,000 reviews, and has been called “the most comfortable bra [buyers] have ever worn” and the “only bra [they] wear now,” according to reviewers. (It’s also made it into several of Bustle’s best bras lists, including The Most Comfortable Bras With Support and The Best Wireless Bras.) While it doesn’t have an underwire, the Magic Ring design still provides optimal structure to relieve stress on your shoulders.

  • Available sizes: 32C — 48DDD

One reviewer wrote: “I live with a repaired shoulder separation, so it's not easy to find straps that are comfortable. Love this bra.”

3. The Best Bra For Plunging Necklines

While wider straps and more coverage often translate to more support (and therefore less strain on your shoulders), some people prefer bras that are a little less visible. For those cases, Dr. Okubadejo recommends the Bali Comfort Revolution underwire bra, which — despite its thinner straps and plunging cups — still offers wonderful support in the form of stretchy, lifting foam and a wide, U-shaped band. The straps adjust and the bra clasps from the front, which helps to minimize strain on your shoulders. Currently, this one has more than 16,000 reviews and a 4.3-star overall rating.

  • Available sizes: 34B — 42DD

One reviewer wrote: “I had extensive shoulder surgery which caused trouble with a back hook and eye. These bras fit equally as well and much easier to get on and off. This was my third order. Love them!!

4. A Supportive Wire-Free Bra In 20+ Colors

If you’re not sold on the idea of underwire, there are bras that offer shoulder-soothing support without it. Take the Bali Comfort Revolution wire-free bra, for example. Foam cups, a thick band, high-rise sides, and knit-in zones provide targeted support, all without discomfort or bra lines. While the thick straps aren’t adjustable, they’re stretchy and U-shaped for security — and even though this one looks and feels like a sports bra, it has a hook-and-eye closure in the back. It’s also offered in roughly 24 different patterns and colors.

  • Available sizes: X-Small — 3X Large

One reviewer wrote: “These bras are incredible. I've bought 5 of them now as I finally found one that fits as expected, is comfortable, and my breasts don't slip out of and actually feel supported without hurting my shoulders.”

5. An Extra-Supportive Bra For Large Busts

According to reviewers, Wacoal’s Awareness bra is a life-changer for breasts up to an H cup. It uses underwire, hidden slings (in DDD sizes and above), and two-ply fabric cups in order to support breasts, while the ergonomic straps are thick, padded, adjustable, and comfortable for hours on end. On the outside, it has floral jacquard fabric in your choice of five different colors. Right now, this bra has a 4.4-star overall rating.

  • Available sizes: 32D — 44H

One reviewer wrote: “This bra is amazing for big breasts. It shapes well, it makes them look smaller, it feels very supportive. The shoulder straps are padded so no more sore shoulders.”

6. The Most Comfortable Bralette

Typically, bralettes offer little to no support. The Calvin Klein Invisibles bralette is an exception, which is why it has more than 2,500 five-star ratings. With its longline shape and body-conforming removable pads, it helps to distribute the weight of the breasts for all-day comfort. It also has a plunging V-shaped neckline, thick straps, and ultra-smooth microfiber edges that won’t show under clothes. Plus, it’s so stylish, some reviewers choose to wear it alone or under transparent tops.

  • Available sizes: X-Small — 2X

One reviewer wrote: “Bought one and liked it so much I bought two more. Size up for best comfort. Feels like you're not even wearing a bra, nothing digging into your shoulders or back. Heaven!”

7. The Best Sports Bra For Shoulder Pain

“For some women with large breasts, or those who have a small frame with large breasts, they might feel more comfortable in sports bras or custom-sized bras that can help support and distribute the weight of large breasts,” Dr. Okubadejo explained to Bustle. In terms of sports bras, this one from DELMIRA is considered one of the best for large breasts and high-impact workouts. It’s much more supportive than most sports bras, thanks to its padding, underwire, compression, thick adjustable straps, and hook-and-eye closure — but it still has mesh panels and moisture-wicking fabric for comfort.

  • Available sizes: 32C — 42E

One reviewer wrote: “I can do any workout in this bra and not have an issue with my breast coming out. Running, yoga, etc. I love that it doesn’t [hurt] my shoulders and you can adjust straps easily with the bra on.”

8. The Best Everyday T-Shirt Bra

This T-shirt bra is the perfect everyday bra for someone with shoulder pain. It has wide cushioned straps in the front so it doesn’t dig. The lightly lined full-coverage cups are supported with an underwire and a thick band. The mesh panels in the back and in the center are designed to keep you feeling light and airy throughout the day. Word to the wise, the brand recommends going one size up in band size for the best fit.

  • Available sizes: 32C — 42E

One reviewer wrote: “I spend a lot of money on bras... I always settle for "good enough" but end up with shoulder pain or spillage. This bra is amazing! I was so pleasantly surprised when I put it on. I can wear it all day at work and actually keep it on when I get home at the end of the day! No shoulder pain. Cups fit perfectly.”

9. A Gorgeous Scalloped Bra With A Front Closure

This lacey scalloped bra is designed with impressive support features that can take the pressure and strain off your shoulders. Thick, cushioned straps ensure comfort while the wide support panels and thick underwire provide maximum comfort without sacrificing support. This bra also features a front closure which is a major plus for anyone who finds the motions of taking a bra on and off painful or difficult.

  • Available sizes: 34B — 48G

One reviewer wrote: “I had a shoulder replacement a year ago and I still need front close bras. This one is comfortable and supportive.”

10. The Best Cotton Bra For Shoulder Pain

This soft cotton bra provides shape, support, and comfort — especially for your shoulders. The extra wide and adjustable straps rest with ease on your shoulders and won’t dig or pinch. The smoothing side panels also prevent any side spillage, and look seamless under clothes. This bra keeps you supported with a strong underwire and full coverage cups to take the strain away from your shoulders.

  • Available sizes: 38C — 46DD

One reviewer wrote: “You will absolutely LOVE this bra! Well at least I do! It's super soft and super comfortable. It has plenty of stretch and strength to hold your girls up. It has wider shoulder straps which help distribute the weight on your shoulders. It really makes a difference when you have heavier breasts.”

11. A Comfortable Scoop-Neck Bralette

If comfort is your top priority, this buttery soft True & Co bra is a great option. Made from a stretchy blend of stretchy nylon and elastane, this bra is comfortable enough to wear to bed, according to some reviewers. It features a wire-free design without any clasp. However, the material is thick enough that you’ll still feel supported. The best part about this bra is its wide and comfortable shoulder straps which result in absolutely no shoulder pain, according to reviewers.

  • Available sizes: 38C — 46DD

One reviewer wrote: “This bra is a must! I have fibromyalgia and this bra is so comfortable on my shoulders and ribs and gives support as well.”


Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo, M.D., New York-based spinal and orthopedic surgeon of Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care