Wearing the right size chest binder
The most important part of binding safely is wearing the right size binder.
When we bind the intention is to compress the soft tissue without compressing the ribs. People often make the mistake of thinking that a smaller binder will make them look flatter, this is rarely the case and just causes discomfort and makes it more difficult to wear for long periods of time.
Once you have compressed your soft chest tissue to a certain point, from then on you are just compressing your ribs which can cause damage.
Wearing a binder for too long (more than 8 hours)
You should avoid wearing a binder for more than 8 hours. We understand that there are circumstances that prevent this such as school or long work hours. If you are in this situation we suggest going to the bathroom or another private space and removing your binder for 5 – 10 minutes to stretch (see below for more information on stretching).
For people under 18, we recommend taking it off after 6 hours.
Binding while exercising
If you are going to exercise while wearing a binder we recommend you wear a size larger than usual. This goes for swimming and other cardio exercises. If you are going to be lifting weights it would be preferable to wear a sports bra or similar as your body will be under more physical pressure.
Unsafe binding methods
Never use duct tape, bandages or KT tape. These items are not designed to stretch and could cause you to injure your ribs!
The tape’s stickiness can also pull your skin and cause stretch marks and irritation and damage the soft chest tissue.
There are also cheap binder-like garments that you can find online, usually from China. These have and will crack ribs. Please only purchase from a specialist binder seller.
Double Binding or wearing more than one binder or compression method is also an unsafe binding method. Never double bind. A binder is designed to work on its own. Adding extra compression will put your body under too much pressure and will cause pain.
Wearing a binder will make you warmer as you are wearing another layer. In summer this can get quite hot and sweaty. You must keep an eye on light-headedness and dehydration. Try to wear thin breathable fabrics over your binder during the summer months.
It is possible that over time binding could change the overall appearance of your chest. As the binder holds your chest flat to your body it can cause the tissue to become flatter. The extent depends on a combination of things including: how often you bind, your chest size, your genetics, and if you are taking hormones.
If you take testosterone, this can increase these changes to the chest. It is likely if you don’t bind very often that you won’t notice a difference. Changes like this usually take years of regular binding to become noticable.
Chest binders are tight and are made of strong fabrics so it is important to look after your skin as it may get rubbed or chafed. Your binder will soften to a varying degree over time and washing with fabric softener can help. However, if you have sensitive skin you can wear a thin layer underneath to stop the binder from rubbing.
You may gain or lose weight over time and not realise, especially if you are on testosterone. Jack (our founder) went from size S to size XL within a year after starting HRT. It is important to measure yourself regularly to check that your binder still fits.
If you experience chest pain, shoulder pain, back pain, abdominal pain, light-headedness, heartburn or shortness of breath, stop wearing the binder immediately. Speak with your doctor and make sure you are accurately sized in your binder. Email us, we don’t mind!
Remember to take care of your body even if you are struggling with your feelings about it. Dysphoria can make people feel very low and self destructive, especially with long waiting times for treatments, and feeling like you can’t be yourself.
Talk to someone you can trust if you are feeling like this, it helps to not struggle alone and maybe they can help you.
IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION SUCH AS ASTHMA CONSULT A DOCTOR BEFORE BINDING.
If you start showing symptoms of COVID-19 you must stop wearing your chest binder. Symptoms include:
- a high temperature
- a continuous cough
- Loss of taste
Wearing a binder, even one the correct size can cause unnecessary strain on your lungs and ribs if you are sick.
Stretching is important to prevent bad posture and discomfort. You can do any/all of the following 5 stretches when you take off your binder or when you take a break from binding during the day.
We encourage you to research and find what works for you and your body.
1. Standing Stretch: Stand with your feet hip width apart with your back straight. Interlock your fingers behind you. Push your arms up and back away from your body until you feel the stretch and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat once more.
2. Doorway Stretch: Stand in a doorway with one foot in front of the other. If you are stretching your left pectoral muscle, your right leg should be in front of you and slightly bent. When stretching your right chest muscle, put your left leg in front of you. Bend one arm at a 90° angle and place your palm on the door frame. Carefully lean forward on the side that you're stretching. You should feel your chest open and stretch. Turn your head in the opposite direction of the stretch if you feel you want increase it and stretch the neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
3. Corner Stretch: Stand 1ft from a corner with your dominant leg in front of you with your legs slightly bent. Your dominant foot should be closer to the corner than the rest of your body. Your back should be straight and your shoulders should be squared. Your dominant foot is on the same side as the hand that you write with. 4. Shoulder Rolls: Maintain good posture while standing or sitting. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Do this movement 10 times.Then, roll your shoulders up, forward, and down 10 times.
4. Shoulder rolls: Maintain a good posture while standing or sitting. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Do this movement 10 times. Then reverse the movement 10 more times.
5. Cat/Cow Stretch: This is a yoga pose, a yoga class/ youtube yoga routine would be excellent to help with binding aftercare. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. On an inhale, fill your belly with air and let it sink down as you look up. Exhale as you engage your abdominals, tuck your chin into your chest, and round your spine. Continue this movement for a few minutes, paying special attention to your shoulders.
If you have any further binding safety questions or suggestions for content we should add to this page, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.