Pain that is occurring on your shoulder and neck is not always due to posture. We’ve covered before that this persisting pain could actually be due to wearing the incorrect size of bra that may be blocking important nerves near your shoulder area. This pain that could be found in your neck, shoulder and even your back, is called bra strap syndrome.
Apart from our earlier suggestions of changing your bra as well as considering comfortable pads that cushion the push of the straps, you might also be wondering how to deal with the pain and discomfort that already is happening as a result of the syndrome. Before we dive in to some remedies and treatments, it is important to remember that if you have exhausted all these suggestions and the pain still persists, YOU MUST see your doctor.
Bra Strap Syndrome Recap
Just a quick recap, this syndrome is due to prolonged pressure of the bra straps on your shoulder and also areas where there are nerves that connect your shoulder, neck, and back. This nerve blockage then causes pain around these areas. You could also experience skin indentations or irritation from the straps themselves.
Most immediate action is of course to stop wearing the bra. You want to remove any pressure that is causing the syndrome to begin with. That also means wearing something more comfortable and loose-fitting like a big shirt or a light top.
Dealing with the Pain
Because this is a pain that you can target specifically, you may not need to drink painkillers immediately. Applying a cooling balm on your irritated skin can help, similar to when your skin gets irritated from prolonged exposure to sun.
If your skin isn’t painful to touch, a gentle massage can help with the pain around the neck and shoulder. You will want gentle strokes that go outwards. Using your fingers, gently press on the muscles that are on your shoulder. Follow the stroke direction from the lower neck (back part) down to your shoulder. You can knead the area just directly below your neck. The key to getting this right is to follow where the muscles are instead of pressing against a bone. It would also help to have some good lubrication like a massage oil or a lotion so your strokes don’t feel uncomfortable or rough. If you find these areas difficult to reach, having a professional massage would actually be more helpful.
Make sure to end the massage with a good stretch. The goal is not to reach incredible poses or forms, but to get the blood flowing into your system so there is decompression in the areas where there might have been blockage.
Yoga for Prevention
The art and practice of yoga has been wonderfully popular among women. However, more than just looking good in poses and finding your breathing, yoga does wonders in strengthening your muscles as well as developing more balance. When you have stronger muscles (not necessarily bigger) you will find that you can handle more pressure around your shoulder area more than you usually could. Remember, bra strap syndrome is not just found in wearing bras but also in carrying heavy loads on your shoulders. That could be a backpack, your shoulder bag, or anything that adds weight on your shoulders.
This also means that working out in the gym and developing strength can also prevent acute pain from happening.
Don’t Forget to Get Comfortable
Once the pain is gone, it is easy to forget that it was there in the first place and just go on with your daily life. It is important to review your wardrobe and make sure you’re wearing bras that are comfortable and appropriate to whatever activity you have planned out.
Maybe you want to consider wearing bralettes or sports bras when doing high-intensity activities. Perhaps you should look for bras with wide straps so they nestle gently on your skin. Comfort is queen and you should never let it be a second priority when it comes to undergarments.
Professional Help Might Be Necessary
Say for example you do get a massage, you do treat the areas where pain was felt and you felt great! Then the next day when you wake up the pain is back again even if you were not wearing tight bra straps anymore. Perhaps it is time to seek professional help. Just because a temporary remedy was able to give you relief, does not mean the problem is completely gone. Remember, bigger problems like complete nerve blockage could become more serious if not treated early on. We really can’t go wrong with the saying “if pain persists, go see a doctor.”
Take care of your body, and you will thank yourself for years to come.