Posture is SO important. It can dictate our emotions and moods, affect our productivity and even send signals to others. How our bra is fitted has a huge impact on our posture, so to celebrate Posture Month we have been researching the science behind the various ways bras can affect our posture, how it can impact our well-being plus some hints and tips on what to look out for in your bra to ensure you give your back and bust the best support...
Why is posture so important and how can it affect me?
Posture is a form of body language, which is the main part of our 55% non-verbal communication that we all do everyday. It’s basically the way that we tell people how we're feeling without even having to speak! Research shows that power poses - where we take up more physical space by opening up our chests and stretching high with our heads - embodies confidence and an openness to others. We are also able to tolerate more physical pain and emotional stress in these positions. The opposite also applies, if you’re slouched and hunched over, we are less productive, less communicative and less open to input.
There is a term called “Embodied Cognition” which is where our minds and bodies communicate with each other, meaning that your posture can impact your moods and vice versa. So if there is a third party dictating your posture such as a poorly fitted bra or back pain then you could be unnecessarily making your life much harder than it needs be by telling your brain to be in a negative mood.
Bad posture from an ill-fitted bra can be caused by a few reasons. If you don’t like the look and shape of your breasts because they are spilling out of your cups ( for example ) , you will naturally hunch over with rounded shoulders to hide them. These are usually subconscious movements and habits that we pick up over time without realising, but can be a real task to undo.
If you have a large, heavy bust and an ill-fitting bra, it is quite understandable that you will drop your shoulders as your bra rides up your back and your breasts sit lower and lower at the front. However, all this can lead to muscle tightening, upper back pain or lower back pain when we compensate and adjust our posture. The main reasons for an unsupportive bra are where the band is too loose, the cups are the wrong size and the underwire is digging in, or the straps are too loose/tight. We will cover this in more detail ...
Physically, we add stress to the bones and muscles when we adopt poor posture, which can affect breathing and even cause digestion problems. Back or shoulder pain can be the result of dysfunctional segments in your upper back and the strength of our backs/shoulders and hips can all be affected by our posture.
Research shows that you will have higher self-esteem, better mood, and lower fear when sat up straight compared to slumped. Your rate of speech may well increase too, reduce self-focus and have a higher resilience to stress.
In short, your mum was right - sit up straight! If you can encourage your shoulders to move back this will decompress nerves, improve grip strength, and increase lung function. A beneficial bi-product of these improvements is the reduction of fatigue and a psychological boost in energy that results in greater endurance and productivity.
How can my bra help?
It’s commonly thought that roughly 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size, but we think it’s best to not focus on the numbers as different manufacturers and bra styles will mean we all wear a variety of sizes at one time or another. When conducting a bra fitting, virtually or in our stores, we always provide the wearer with a bra size range, rather than a single size.
However, if your bra is fitted correctly, you will be using your entire chest area, shoulders and back to support your breasts which should not only improve your breast shape/position it will in turn lift your head & open up your chest, as you are more confident with your appearance. But it will also distribute the weight evenly and avoid pinch points where we put pressure on one part of your back.
What should I look out for in how my bra fits?
A snug band. Most of the support comes from the band so ensure this doesn’t ride up your back and is sitting in line with the underwires. You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably under the back fastening of your bra and happily pull away ½ and inch to an inch away from your back with a comfortable amount of resistance. If it easily stretches more than an inch it may be too loose or if you struggle to fit a finger under the band at all, it may be too small.
Underwires shouldn’t float off your chest, they should sit flush with your ribs. They shouldn't dig in to the side of the breast tissue but sit happily under your arm on your ribcage* ( try pushing the underarm end of your underwire in and if it feels like it’s on breast tissue, you may be too small in the cup ). *If you have a depressed sternum, this is not always possible, if this is something you experience, one of our senior bra fitters will be able to show you options that will work for you including softer / cushioned underwires and those that don't rise between the bust.
Cups should contain your breast tissue without spilling out of the top. If your bust is struggling to stay within the cup you may need a larger cup or alternative cup shape. For example, a balconette could be swapped for a plunge which has a totally different cup shape - don’t be afraid to try multiple styles. This is important stuff!
If your cups are gaping or folding inwards, it may be too large or the wrong shape/material for you. If you have always worn a padded bra, try a non-padded one ( Pant Patrol, our friendly bra fitting experts will always offer alternative suggestions ). Most women have one breast larger than the other, so be sure fit to the largest one.
The best way to support our backs and boobs is to take care of ourselves and whether you are sitting at a desk all day, pushing yourself in physical work, exercising, taking care of the kids or running a busy household you will be able to do so better with good posture, less ( or no! ) physical pain and be in a better mood all round!
Throughout this article we have included various poses to help improve posture, along with wearing the correctly fitting bra ...
We would love to see you in our Islington and Saffron Walden stores, or online via our virtual service to offer a free bra fitting and help ensure you are wearing a fabulously fitted bra.
Here’s to happy backs and boobs x
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