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tender breasts

Whether you noticed it during a hug or after a long run, breast tenderness is certainly something that’s tough to ignore. While it may be concerning at first, know this: tender breasts are actually an extremely common issue. In fact, according to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, breast pain affects up to 70 percent of women at some point in their lifetime.

That doesn’t mean you have to accept the discomfort, though. So, what’s the culprit of breast tenderness? And is there anything you can do about it? In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about breast tenderness causes and solutions.

Is your bra to blame?

It’s important to note that there are a variety of factors that can cause breast tenderness, including everything from stress, your period, breastfeeding, and pregnancy, to an intense upper body workout (think: bench presses and pushups). Hormonal fluctuations or sore muscles can certainly be to blame. However, an ill-fitting bra is one of the most common causes. Simply put: If your breasts are feeling especially tender or sensitive, they may not be getting adequate support.

When was the last time you went bra shopping? The fact is, bras stretch out with time. If you’re wearing bras you bought over a year ago, there’s a good chance it’s too big for you, and therefore may not be offering the amount of support you need. Other signs that your bra is too big include gaping cups and a band that rides up in the back.

On the other hand, breast soreness can also be caused by a bra that’s too tight. So if you feel like the underwire or band is digging into you or your boobs are spilling out of the cups, that’s a key sign that your bra is too small.

It’s especially crucial that your sports bra is lending sufficient support. So if you’re experiencing any soreness or tenderness after your sweat session, consider that you may need a more supportive bra to wear during physical activity. This is particularly important if you have large breasts and/or engage in high-impact workouts, like running, dancing, or plyometric training.

Related: 3 Signs Your Bra Is Too Small (And How To Fix It)

What you can do about it

OK, so you’ve determined your bra is to blame for your breast tenderness. Now what?

First thing’s first: It’s time to get fitted by a professional to determine your correct size. Fittings can be done at most department stores and lingerie boutiques. And an expert will be able to not only accurately take your measurements, but also address any other bra fit issues you’ve been facing.

As previously mentioned, a well-fitting sports bra is key for preventing soreness during and after any athletic activities. The underband offers the majority of the support and should fit as snugly as possible without being uncomfortable. And the straps should also be as tight as can be without digging into your shoulders. If you have larger breasts, you’ll likely want to look for an encapsulation sports bra, which features separate cups for your breasts, as opposed to a compression bra (which offers no individual separation). Better yet, look for a combination bra that fuses compression and encapsulation for maximum support. Adjustable straps and band closures are key to making sure you can customize the fit so that it’s perfect for your unique body.


No woman should have to deal with breast tenderness on a regular basis. While it’s an extremely common affliction, there are certainly ways to resolve it. To recap — you can avoid this pesky problem by making sure you’re wearing the correct bra size, and that you’re wearing the right bra styles for your breast shape and size to guarantee adequate support. Remember: A professional fitter can offer super helpful guidance in all of these regards, so if you haven’t been fitted in the last six months, that’s probably the first step to banishing the breast tenderness for good.

Related: Why Do So Many Women Wear The Wrong Bra Size?

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday 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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Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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