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bra pain

Whatever bra styles you like, from padded push-ups to wire-free bralettes, there is one thing that all bras should be and that’s comfortable. Don’t put up with the misery of a painful one! No matter your cup size, it is possible to find a comfy bra.

Finding the perfect bra for you may take some trial and error, but knowing what’s causing your current one to be painful is a big advantage. It could be an issue with the bra design, or it may simply be that you need a different size.

Below are some common types of bra-related pain, and what’s most likely to be causing them.

Band chafing

If your bra band leaves your skin looking red and raw, it could be a sign that it’s too tight. While a firm-fitting band is necessary for support, you need some space to flex and move about too. You should be able to bend from side to side, and take a big, deep breath in perfect comfort.

Alternatively, the band may be chafing because it’s too loose, meaning it moves around and rubs against your skin a lot more than it should. Check in a mirror that the band goes horizontally across your back – it shouldn’t be higher at the back than at the sides.

Aching back or shoulders

That’s right, your bra could be the culprit for your constant back pain! If you have aches and pains in your back or shoulders, you may need a tighter bra band.

It’s your bra’s band that should be doing the bulk of the support work, but it needs to fit firmly in order to do that. If it’s loose, the weight of your breasts (especially if you are full-busted) will drag it down at the front – which is what causes it to ride up at the back.

In a well-fitting bra the weight of your bust gets distributed all across your ribcage. However, when the band isn’t able to offer that support, the weight gets put squarely onto your shoulders instead via the straps. This can lead to straps that dig in painfully, and general shoulder ache. It can also cause slouching, with poor posture in turn resulting in back ache.

Related: Why Do My Bra Straps Dig Into My Shoulders?

Poking or rubbing wires

If your wires are digging in or otherwise feel uncomfortable, they’re either the wrong size or the wrong shape for you. Firstly, make sure that all of your breast tissue is inside the underwire. If the wire is sitting on top of your breast, rather than just below it, that can lead to rubbing.

Simply use your hand to scoop each breast upwards into the cup – do this every time you put a bra on. After, the cups should still fit correctly. If you suddenly find yourself spilling over the tops, you need a larger cup size.

Wire ends can also poke, most commonly at the gore (the centre-front) but also at the underarm. This could be due to a cup size that’s too large, but you’ll probably know if that’s the case because the cup will be gaping or wrinkling. More likely, the style of the underwire used is simply too long or too tall for your body.

Underwires come in different shapes, with standard ones ranging from a deep ‘U’ shape to something that’s more like a ‘J’. Try on bras with various gore heights (the gore on a plunge bra sits very low, for example) until you find one that’s comfortable.

Remember that different brands often use different wires – not just different lengths, but more/less rigid too. So grab a big selection and head to the changing room! And of course, you’ve also got the option of going wireless.

Skin irritation

Is your bra making you itch, sweat or break out in a rash? Because bras are worn right next to the skin, and for so many hours each day, it’s especially important to consider the fabrics that they are made from.

Cheap meshes or laces can feel scratchy, and certain fabrics just don’t let your skin breathe. Feel the bra in your hands, if you’re in-store shopping. Is it nice and soft, especially on the inside? Are there awkwardly-positioned seams that might become irritating?

Take a look at the fabric content too and make sure it’s something breathable. Silk is a great fiber if you can afford it, but cotton, bamboo, rayon and ‘spacer fabric’ are also good options.


Do you have another type of pain or irritation, and you’re not sure if your bra is causing it or how to fix it? Leave your question in the comments below.

Related: How To Build A Lingerie Wardrobe You Love

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new sports bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

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Published by

Estelle Puleston

Estelle Puleston is the founder of, a blog dedicated to her love of lingerie. She works full-time as a copywriter and digital marketer for the lingerie and swimwear industry, and when she’s not doing that, she’s probably sewing or enjoying a good cup of tea.

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