Breast Health and Your Bra

At Lymphworks, breast health is a priority of therapist Carol J. (C.J.) McDaniel. She specializes in Breast Massage and Lymph Drainage Therapy and is a frequent service provider for women currently receiving medical treatment for breast cancer.

As a healthcare provider, she has a message for women:

“Your bra may be hurting you.”



Why Is Your Bra Choice Important to Breast Health?

Over and over, C.J. McDaniel has observed stagnant lymph vessels, re-routing lymph, lymph enlargement and swollen glands in her patients at exactly the areas where bra elastic tightens and squeezes. She says, “Without a doubt, we do see breast lymph congestion and connective tissue restrictions exactly where the bra line hits and above and below the breast including the armpits. Bras cross major lymph vessel pathways and may act like a tourniquet.” This is especially true for large-breasted women whose breasts are large enough to put considerable strain on the straps and bands, causing breast pain. It’s even more true for those women choosing to wear thin strapped bras and underwires.

Breast tissue has poor lymph flow to begin with because the muscle is under the gland instead of on top of it. Why should you care?  Well, the lymph system is designed to keep the body's fluids in balance and evacuate toxins, proteins, and excess fluid from the extra-cellular spaces.  In addition to trash collection, the lymph system transports hormones and immune cells throughout the body. It's a vital piece of your immune system.  And much of the lymph system is located in and around the chest and armpits (axillas).

Simplified view of some of the Lymph Nodes and Lymphatic Vessels of the female breast.  Image compliments of The MacMillan Cancer Support Group.


Lymphworks therapists have noticed definite breast lymph fluid constrictions along the bra lines. Paired with the knowledge that lymph glands can be stimulated with touch as light as the weight of a nickel, the observations lead them to conclude that most bras do inhibit circulation. While plausible medical research has not linked breast cancer to bra wearing, at Lymphworks we say, "Why place constrictions on one of your body's waste disposal systems?"  Instead, choose your lingerie for comfort and breast health.


Best Bras for Breast Health? 

 Follow these suggestions

  • If the bra hurts, don't wear it.
  • If the bra leaves indentations in your skin for long periods of time after you have already removed the bra, don’t wear it.
  • Get professionally fitted for your bra. You are likely wearing the wrong size.
  • If you have sudden weight gain or loss, consider resizing your bra.
  • For regular use, consider bras with wide straps and no underwire (comfortable sports bras).  
  • The wider the strap, the more uniform the pressure and less likely it is restricting your lymphatic flow.  (We like the Genie Bra)
  • Avoid push up bras and underwire bras.
  • If you do choose to wear a skinny strap or underwire bra, take the bra off the moment you get home.
  • Switch out the style of bra you wear (mix it up) to ensure you aren’t creating a restrive pattern in the surround connective tissue.
  • Stay flexible with regular stretching of the upper body and chest area.
  • Use non-chemical, non-toxic personal care products on your body.

For more information on breast health, please visit one our other educational pages on breast massage, lymph drainage therapy, avoiding toxins, general detoxification, or swollen lymph nodes.



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