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Are chest binders safe？
Let’s get straight to the point: wearing a chest binder can be safe.
But “can be” doesn’t mean they’re always safe. The big catch? It’s all about choosing the right brand.
Before diving in, remember that knowing how chest binders work helps us understand what we’re about to cover.
Remember our key conclusions:
1. Most risks associated with chest binding stem from incorrect pressure.
2. The right pressure level can flatten the chest without compromising safety.
Let’s break it down a bit more.
Why Choosing a Professional Brand is Crucial?
1. The Brand Determines the Pressure You Experience with a Chest Binder
Yes, you heard that right. The brand decides the pressure you’ll feel while wearing a chest binder, not you.
That’s because the brand sets the size chart and the product specifications.
You pick a binder based on a brand’s size chart. Essentially, you’re deciding the pressure you’ll endure when wearing it.
When a brand develops a product, it already has specific sizes for each chest measurement. For example, if a medium is meant for a 34-36 inch chest, but the actual product size is 26 inches, it means that when you wear this chest binder, the material around your chest will stretch by 8-10 inches. This stretching translates into pressure on your chest.
Excessive pressure can lead to numerous short-term and long-term risks and side effects.
That’s why, as we mentioned at the start, the safety of the pressure applied by a chest binder largely depends on whether the brand has professional experience and knowledge in the compression industry, especially in the medical compression field.
2. The Brand Decides the Balance of Pressure in a Chest Binder
Whether the Local Pressure is Excessive
Excessive local pressure refers to the scenario where, instead of feeling an even pressure, you notice certain areas experiencing more intense and uncomfortable compression when wearing a chest binder.
This localized excessive pressure is often the root cause of many adverse reactions, such as skin allergies, indentations on the skin, and rib pain. The most severe issue can be discomfort under the arms, leading to poor blood circulation and pressure on the lymphatic system in the armpits.
Avoiding these side effects and risks greatly challenges a chest binder brand’s design capabilities. My years of experience in the industry have taught me that compression products test pattern-making skills more than any other clothing item. The manufacturer’s expertise and understanding of compression products directly impact the consumer’s health and safety in the short and long term.
Balancing Pressure Between the Front and Back
Many might not have considered the balance of pressure between the front and back of the chest binder, and it’s rarely discussed in articles. However, it becomes apparent when you notice the side effects of imbalanced pressure.
Side effects include long-term pain in the chest, shoulders, and back, the need to slouch or hunch forward to relieve chest pain while wearing the binder, and severe back pain when stretching or lying down after removing the binder.
All these issues are related to the pressure imbalance between the front and back of the chest binder.
Why is Choosing the Right Size So Important?
The manufacturer determines the sizing chart and the product specifications, but your measurements decide whether you can select a size that matches their chart.
You need to measure your body accurately with a tape measure and then choose a size based on the manufacturer’s sizing chart.
While you can’t be sure about the accuracy and safety of the manufacturer’s sizing chart upfront, it’s only through precise personal measurements and trying on the chest binder that you can assess the suitability of the manufacturer’s products.
For more on how to measure correctly, The Fluxion Sizing Guide
How to Pick and Assess the Right Chest Binder:
Having worked in the medical compression industry for over a decade, I’ve seen too many manufacturers lacking the necessary expertise and experience. They often overlook the risks and harm that improper pressure can cause, rushing products to market without due care.
In this scenario, consumers are at a disadvantage. Before purchase, it’s hard to gauge whether a brand is professional and its products are safe and comfortable. The cost of choosing the wrong brand or product can be high.
However, there are ways to discern. First, check out product reviews and social media shares, but don’t follow them unthinkingly. I’ve encountered many such instances. Everyone’s understanding of comfort and safety differs, as does their body’s sensitivity. Also, many endorsements are based on profit, not genuine recommendations. So, it’s crucial to sift through these reviews and endorsements critically. Assess whether the reviewers have higher standards and sensitivity towards the product than you do.
Another strategy is to opt for brands with friendly return policies. Look for ones offering a return period of over 30 days, with unconditional returns. These policies can often be confirmed through pre-purchase communication with customer service.
These steps can help reduce the cost of making a mistake. While a chest binder is just a piece of clothing, its impact on your body due to the pressure it exerts means that choosing one shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s essential to carefully and thoroughly select a chest binder that fits you well.
External thoracic restriction, respiratory sensation, and ventilation during exercise in men – American Physiological Society