Chest binding is a common way to give a more masculine appearance of the chest. Many individuals of the trans and non-binary community use this to reduce the appearance of breast tissue to better align with their identities. This is a fantastic affirming tool, but there are a few things to keep in mind regarding the health of the structures of the torso when binding.
What is a chest binder? This is a compressive garment used to flatten the chest. This garment appears similar to a tube top or a sports bra (indeed some people choose to use a regular sports bra), but the fabric extends wider across the front and back of the body, giving a more seamless and flatter appearance. Binders come in varying levels of compression and styles to accommodate the range of needs for this population.
Chest binding is a great tool for those who wish to minimize the appearance of breast tissue, but it’s hard to accomplish this without also affecting the muscles of the chest wall, the upper back, as well as rib and vertebral mobility. Common issues from prolonged binding involve muscle stiffness and weakness in the upper back muscles, stiffness in the thoracic spine, as well as rib stiffness. This can lead to discomfort and mobility concerns.
The best way to address some of these issues is to have a regular routine of strengthening and mobility exercises, as well as scheduling breaks from the binder. Some go-to exercises would include bird-dog or thread-the-needle. If this feels like something that concerns you, or if you want more information, contact us!
–Louise Fonteyne, Registered Pelvic Physiotherapist
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