If you have dark marks on your shoulders that have been caused by bra straps, you may need to rethink your bra size. If you have never been professionally fitted for a bra---and many women have not---you should consider doing so. Wearing a bra that is the wrong size is uncomfortable, will not give you proper support and may cause these marks to appear.
Does Your Bra Fit?
If your breasts are bulging over the top or sides of your bra, or even from underneath, your bra is not the right size. These issues, along with strap marks, indicate that your cup size is too small. In addition, if the band of your bra is riding up above your shoulder blades, it is another indicator that your bra is too small.
According to Barenecessities.com, the support comes from the bra's band around your chest, not from the straps. If your straps are pulled too tightly, this is going to cause the dark marks in your skin. Furthermore, if the band on your bra is too big, the straps will end up carrying the load, which puts pressure on your shoulders and your back and will cause indentations.
Calculate Your Size
Measure your circumference starting under your arms, measuring all the way around your chest but placing the measuring tape above, not across, your breasts. You are measuring the top of your chest. If this measurement results in an even number, that is your exact band size. If the measurement is an odd number, add another inch to the measurement to determine your bra band size.
To calculate your cup size, measure loosely around the fullest part of your breasts. Subtract your band measurement from your bust measurement. Each inch represents a cup size. For example, if your band measurement is 34 inches and your bust measurement is 36 inches, the difference is 2 inches, so you should wear a B cup.
Try on Different Sizes
Inteliheath.com and an article written by Julie Kostecky notes that 34D, 36C and 38B are nearly equivalent in size, so it is essential that you try on all three sizes to find the best fit for you.
Things to Do and Not to Do
To help prevent strap marks, moisturize your skin before putting on your bra. Consider buying bras that have wider straps, and do not wear your bra to bed.
Risks of Wearing the Wrong-Size Bra
Women who have pendulous breasts may have problems with strap-mark indentations in their shoulders. Some women who suffer back and shoulder pain because of their large breasts eventually opt for breast reduction.
In addition to strap indentations and back and shoulder pain, women who are wearing the wrong-size bra can also suffer from breast pain when they are exercising, skin infections and abrasions that may develop underneath the breasts, neck and arm pain and headaches.
According to Bigbustsupport.com, shoulder grooves can be the result of heavy breasts pulling the straps of the bra into the shoulders. If this continues, you may end up with permanent indentations. If you are experiencing shoulder grooves because of your bra, they may cause neck pain. The bra strap is digging into the trapezius muscle, which runs up the sides of your neck from the tops of your shoulders. In addition, heavy breasts, along with the shoulder grooves, will cause the neck muscles to become fatigued and will also result in stress and tension.
Some retailers offer bra savers that prevent strap slippage and shoulder indentations. You can also purchase medical-grade silicone pads for your bra straps that prevent painful shoulder indentations and eliminate chafing and rubbing. Gel-cushion straps are also available that will eliminate the dark marks caused by your bra straps.
Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.