Why Does My Bra Hurt My Sides?

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Pain in the sides is a common dilemma among women, especially when trying a new size, fabric, or style. Not knowing the causes can cause further pain, preventing you from getting a comfortable fit.

I’ve tested various bras since 2018, letting me discover the culprit behind this inconvenience. For this guide, I’m going to explain the reasons why your bra hurts your sides.

Incorrect bra sizeGet professionally fitted for your current size
Body changes like weight gain/lossGet re-fitted for new size as needed
Improper bra style for body shapeTry different styles like full coverage or balconette
Rough materials like lace or meshChoose soft, seamless fabrics like microfiber
Too tight band, underwire, straps, claspsLoosen straps or get wireless bras

Why Does My Bra Hurt My Sides?

Wearing an ill-fitting bra, especially those with too tight bands or cups, can hurt the sides. Poor material choice and improper bra style can also lead to discomfort due to excessive rubbing, pressure, and chafing. In some cases, body changes like weight fluctuations can make your bra fit smaller, digging into the sides. 

Being professionally fitted and choosing the appropriate bra styles for your breast size and shape can prevent bras from hurting your sides.

A red bra on a white bedsheet

Incorrect Bra Size

One of the leading causes why bras hurt the sides is that you may be wearing an incorrect size. An improperly fitted bra can lead to various issues, such as digging into your back, squeezing around your chest, and offering poor support.

Body Changes

Bra sizes can change due to weight gain, weight loss, or hormonal changes. Around weeks six to eight, pregnant women may experience breast size enlargement.

As breasts grow, the bra that used to fit comfortably may now feel too tight around the sides, causing discomfort and pain. Find a bra that accommodates this growth and provides the necessary support to prevent chafing or digging into the skin. For mom, there are best bras for sore breasts during pregnancy.

Improper Bra Style for the Body Shape

Wearing bra styles unsuitable for your body shape is another factor that hurts the sides. Choosing the right bra style is crucial for a comfortable fit, as different styles provide varying levels of support, coverage, and shaping. 

I recommend considering your breast shape, size, and preferred level of support when selecting the perfect style.

For example, use a balconette bra instead of a t-shirt bra to get a more rounded shape while having less coverage. Meanwhile, a t-shirt bra instead of a full-coverage bra is perfect for having smooth, seamless cups. There are also the best support bras for full-figured women.

Wrong Material Choice

I’ve found that the material is a sneaky culprit to side pain when wearing bras. The fabric significantly impacts the bra’s comfort level, especially when preventing side chafing and irritation. 

When selecting a bra material, I opt for soft, breathable fabrics for clothes, like cotton or microfiber.

I also recommend choosing bras with moisture-wicking properties, especially if you tend to sweat or experience skin irritation. These features can help keep your skin dry and minimize friction against the bra’s material, ultimately reducing discomfort.

Too Tight or Thick Bra Features

Bras hurting your sides may also be due to the thickness or tightness of some features.

  • Straps: When straps are too tight or thick, they can dig into your shoulders, leading to pain and irritation. To avoid this, I adjust straps for proper support and look for the best bras for shoulder pain. It is typically with padded or wide, comfortable straps.
  • Clasps: Thick or tight clasps can cause pressure on the back, resulting in discomfort. Ideally, you should be able to fit two fingers between the bra band and your body since that’s how a bra should fit.
  • Band: When the band is too tight or thick, it can cause various issues, such as chafing, indentations, and even restricted breathing. For optimal comfort, measure the underbust and follow bra sizing charts to find the right band size.
  • Underwire: Underwire bras can provide excellent support. However, thick or tight underwires can dig into the skin and cause discomfort. As someone who wears underwire bras, I recommend looking for the most comfortable underwire bras with well-designed underwires that follow the natural curve of the breast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Bra Digging Into My Side?

A bra digs into your side because it could be the wrong size or the cups and band are too tight. Ensure that the underwire, if present, lays flat and correctly against your ribcage without causing pressure points.

Why Do My Ribs Hurt When I Wear a Bra?

Rib pain while wearing a bra can result from tightness, improper fit, or the wrong style for your body type. Trying a different bra best for rib pain or one with a softer band could also alleviate rib pain.

How Can I Prevent Bras From Rubbing Against My Sides?

Preventing bras from rubbing against the sides involves finding the right fit and style for the body. This is why I regularly measure my bust size to adjust fit if necessary and reduce friction against my skin.

Wired vs Wireless Bra: When To Have and Wear Each Type of Bra


Identifying issues causing bra side pain, like incorrect cup size, tight bands, or incorrect style, allows you to find solutions through professional bra fittings, style adjustments, or exploring wire-free options for large breasts. Relieving pressure on tender ribcage areas can provide comfort, prevent long-term damage, and let you enjoy the support of a properly fitted bra.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.