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"I Wore Them Probably 95% Of The Time": This Woman Lived In Sports Bras Until She Had An Eye-Opening Health Scare

"If you wear a sports bra all the time, you need to stop."

For something that you're told you have to wear every day, finding the right bra can be so complicated and confusing you'll want to pull your hair out. Likewise, when you find a bra that works for you, it can feel like the stars have aligned. However, you might be using the wrong bra, even if you don't know it yet.

Woman putting on a bra

TikTok user Kelly (@.kellyhaze) had a similar experience after having a recent health scare. In the video, Kelly recounts that she recently had to get an ultrasound after discovering a lump on her breast. She then says that her doctor explained that lymph node fluid was stuck in her breasts due to a surprising culprit — her sports bra. Because of the compression, a sports bra provides, which Kelly says she was consistently wearing, it led to extra buildup, which created a lump in her breast.

Kelly's video currently has 7.8M views, 1.3M likes, and a comment section full of shocked users and former sports bra enthusiasts:

screenshot of comment section of video by TikTok user @.kellyhaze

I spoke with Kelly, a 33-year-old life coach based in Denver, Colorado, who said that the lump in her breast was discovered during her annual exam with an OB-GYN. In retrospect, Kelly explained that there were some potential signs she missed previously, including discomfort in her left breast, where the lump was discovered. She added, "I would have the most discomfort when I was sleeping on my back and my boob would settle closer to my side close to the armpit."

TikTok user @.kellyhaze

Kelly explained that when she said she wore sports bras all the time in her video, it wasn't an exaggeration. She said, "I wore them probably 95% of the time." She added that because of the comfort a sports bra provided, she typically wore them in favor of wearing a regular bra. After her ultrasound diagnosis, she said that she immediately went shopping to find potential alternatives, purchasing more traditional bras that still provided the comfort she was looking for. She also decided to branch out beyond bras, and added, "I will also wear form-fitting workout tanks to give me some support around the house when I don’t necessarily want to free the titty all day." However, she did add that after limiting her sports bra usage and regularly doing the exercises her doctor recommended, it's become easier for her to go braless more frequently, as the discomfort subsided.

I also spoke with Dr. Erica Montes, a board-certified OB-GYN, who said that Kelly's situation isn't rare. She explained that your body has lymph vessels in the lymphatic system, which allows the lymphatic fluid to drain from the breast. Dr. Montes said that when you have tight compression on your chest like a sports bra, it can lead to a blockage of that fluid, like in Kelly's case. She added, "I think if you are wearing a sports bra or other garment around the breasts that are extremely tight, there is always a chance for swelling due to the build-up of lymphatic fluid."

Dr. Erica Montes

The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system whose purpose is to maintain fluid levels in our body tissue. In addition, it also absorbs fats from the digestive tract and produces immune cells that monitor and destroy foreign things entering your body like bacteria and viruses.

Diagram of the lymphatic system

Dr. Montes also explained that this problem isn't specific to sports bra wearers. Because the issue stems from pressure on the breast, these blockages can also occur with people wearing binders, or mothers putting unnecessary pressure on their breasts while nursing. When left untreated, Dr. Montes said that the build-up can lead to swelling and infection.

A woman experiences breast pain

The exercises Kelly mentioned in her video are lymphatic drainage massages in order to encourage proper drainage from your lymph nodes. In addition, Dr. Montes also recommended limiting your time wearing sports bras since they are uncharacteristically tight. She also added that lymphatic drainage problems aren't the only issue with a bra that's too tight, and said, "These tight bras can possibly lead to difficulty breathing, heartburn, skin infections or rashes, and problems with your posture."

person stretching

Dr. Montes explained that some lumps in the breast can be temporary, like when someone is experiencing hormonal changes in their breast tissue during their menstrual cycle. However, she also gave some tips on when to know when a breast lump requires a more serious look from a doctor. She advised, "If the lump persists, the pain worsens, or you have any skin changes or drainage from the nipple, please see your physician or healthcare professional right away." She finished, "All lumps are not bad, but the earlier you get evaluated, the quicker there is a chance for management and treatment if necessary."

Nurse prepares patient for breast exam

I also spoke with Nicola Crook, the founder of Bras & Honey, and a TikTok creator whose videos focus on helping people find the best bra for their breast size and shape. Nicola reiterated Dr. Erica and Kelly's point to avoid lengthy sports bra wear time but stressed that you can still wear a sports bra for specific activities like exercising and to look for an encapsulation sports bra instead of compression. She explained, "The encapsulation method uses bra size cup sizes, and capsulation progressed, and it stops the bounds by encapsulating and plugging in the tissue, as opposed to compressing the tissue, which is where the damage is really being done."

Nicola added that another reason why these issues may still persists can occur when you're not wearing the appropriate bra for your breast size and shape. She said, "If you're wearing your bra for 10–12 hours per day, you need to make sure that you've got the correct fit so that the wires aren't hitting that breast tissue and stabbing that breast tissue because that's a massive problem."

Person puts on a bra

In her video, Kelly explained that because her breasts are bigger, she gravitated toward the sports bra because of the extra support it provided. Similarly, Nicola explained that she's spoken to people with bigger breasts that prefer to wear bras more often than not, even when sleeping because it provides a level of support that is more comfortable for the wearer than going braless. Again, Nicola explained that you can wear a bra as frequently as you'd like, but you'll need to be aware not only of the fit of the bra on your body but also of the activities you're using them for. So, you don't need to swear off a sports bra for activities like exercise, as that's when they're best suited. Similarly, Nicola said that sleeping in bras is okay, so long as you're wearing a bra without an underwire and without a back fastener, to avoid that constricting and pinching feeling.

Woman sleeping in bed

Nicola also stressed the importance of finding the right sports bra for your body to ensure that you're using it safely. She offered a few tips, and explained, "You should be able to get two fingers under the band. You should not be struggling to breathe. When trying on a sports bra, take a deep breath in and out to test how it will feel as your lungs fill with air during a workout. When you remove the bra there should not be deep marks on your skin."

Kelly explained that she felt compelled to share her experience immediately after the doctor's visit, figuring that there were others who, like her, weren't even aware that they had been doing something that could hurt them. She said, "I had a feeling I wasn’t the only person that wore sports bras all day/night and the most basic of healthcare should be shared to help others!"

Kelly also discussed the swarm of comments her video has received and highlighted people reaching out to let her know that her story has actually helped with their own issues. She said, "I received so many comments and messages from others thanking me because they can’t afford going to the doctors and the information was really helpful or others that have been through the same thing and were never told this information."

You can follow Kelly here. If you'd like to learn more about finding the best bra for your breast size and shape, click here.