Tight bra solution → chest expansion exercise

Women wear bras to have a fuller bust and shape, however it should be noted that adverse events happen when they are too tight. Upper back pains and chest pains are the main symptoms.

Chronic chest pain

Chest pains are due to multiple aspects which may influence each other, forming a negative cycle:

This article will focus on chest myofacia tightness, and how a tight bra relate with the problem.

Tight bra and pain

According to a study, 70% women with upper back pain or chest pain have bras that are too small. Interestingly, this happens in women with larger breast size. During fitting, cutting into excess flesh at the under bust make the measurement inaccurate.

Photo by ONNE Beauty on Unsplash

The breasts locate around the 2nd to 6th rib, where the bra straps around you, making the body stiff and painful.

Breathing exercise for chest pain

Breathing exercises are beneficial in many ways, especially great to relieve chest pain. The information below tells you how it works.

1- Increase rib mobility

There are great chances of increasing chest expansion.

During inhalation, the ribs go up and outward (dotted line)

2- Decrease stiffness of the body

Muscles and fascias around the chest loosens when you exercise daily. There will be no need to worry about buying the wrong bra size.

3- Increase intra-abdominal pressure

The core muscles function better when there is adequate abdominal pressure. This makes the ribs and spine more stable, decreasing unwanted shear force.

Breathing properly, easier said than done

You might question: “Isn’t breathing a natural thing to do? Why spend time relearning it?”
Surprisingly, you may find that there is a high percentage of abnormal breathing patterns in chest pain patients. Below are some examples:

  1. shallow breathing patterns.
  2. holding breath during activities.
  3. out of breath even during light exertions. (Heart and lung problems ruled out)

To fix those problems, physical therapy is needed. Clients should restore the correct breathing rhythm, increase chest expansion range of motion and increase diaphragm proprioception.

Breathing exercise tips at home

  1. Breathe in and out with your nostrils
    This relates with your daily breathing pattern.
    Unless there are special needs or exercise demands, you should always use your nose to exhale.
  2. Expand the chest and abs in a manner of 1:1 during inhalation
    This helps the diaphragm to work properly.
The figure in the middle shows the correct breathing pattern.

There are a variety of breathing exercises, the tips above are just for starters.
If you wish to increase level, you can add on limb motions or restrictions during exercise.

Regaining the correct breathing pattern needs time and effort.
If you need professional help, physiotherapists are there to help!

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Wood K, Cameron M, Fitzgerald K. Breast size, bra fit and thoracic pain in young women: a correlational study. Chiropr Osteopat 2008,13;16:1.


物理治療師 女性運動與姿勢矯正 physiotherapist, MS, CES