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The Science of Bra Straps

Many women feel that bra straps are the single most important element in bra design. Bra straps can certainly generate a wide variety of discomfort; straps can dig into the shoulders, rub or chafe the skin, or annoy us by sliding down constantly. Many women also attribute bra straps to supporting the weight of the bust, and providing the support that your breasts need. Unfortunately, women often misunderstand the role that bra straps play in overall bra design. Bra straps are a key element of bra design, but they’re not the only thing you need to consider, and they may not do exactly what you think.

Supportive Straps
Many women believe that the bra straps are the primary support mechanism of their bra. They believe that the straps themselves are what holds up the weight of the bust. Unfortunately, this isn’t an entirely accurate belief. In a good bra design, the bulk of the support should come from the body of the bra itself; the band that goes around the ribcage and back, and the bra cups. The straps do support some of the weight of the bust, but their primary role, according to the science of bra movement, is actually to stabilize the bust.

The breast movement studies found that it’s actually the bra straps themselves that bear the brunt of the load generated by momentum during physical activity. The body of the bra should provide most of the support for your breasts, but the bra straps are primarily responsible for holding the bust in place when you move. Bra straps that are too loose let the bust move around too much and negate the effectiveness of the bra.

Adjusting Your Bra Straps
Did you know that it wasn’t until the 1940s that bras came with adjustable straps at all? That’s right; prior to the 1940s, bra straps were one-size-fits-all, and you had to put stitches in to tighten them or just deal with them being loose.

When you get a new bra, you’ll need to adjust the bra straps to the length that best fits you. Conventional bra fitting wisdom says to tighten the straps as tight as you feel comfortable, and see how it goes. If the straps dig into you, you can loosen them until you feel comfortable. But if straps are too loose, the bra isn’t effective enough, so it’s important to wear them as tight as you’re comfortably able.

Common Bra Strap Problems
Depending on the bra design, you may need to be on the lookout for common bra strap problems. If the design of the bra is such that your straps support more of your bust than they should, you may find the straps digging into you and causing discomfort. In some cases, if you have a large bust, even when the strap is supporting the right amount of bust it can cause discomfort. In these cases, you should look for wider straps to help distribute the weight more evenly and cut down on discomfort; padded straps can be even better.

Wide straps and padded straps can help reduce discomfort

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