If you’re wondering “Why are my boobs sore?”, this post will help you learn about the common causes & ways to get relief.
If you talk to the women in your life you’ll quickly discover that you are not alone when it comes to sore or tender breasts. Most of us have experienced breast pain at some point or another.
Some have regular tenderness while for others it comes and goes at different times. And for those lucky few who have never experienced soreness in this area, there may come a time when this becomes an issue for you too.
Mastalgia or breast pain shows up as mild discomfort, tenderness, soreness, sensitivity, or swelling, and is a very common part of most women’s lives. Our breasts go through numerous shifts and changes during our lifetime and most of what we feel is a normal part of our body’s rhythms and cycles. While there are numerous conditions that trigger discomfort, most of the pain we experience is usually caused by 3 aggravating factors:
Quality of life~
Speaking about our breasts is still quite taboo in our culture and most women believe that sore breasts are just part of being a female like having menstrual cramps. We take notice of it and get on with our lives even though we feel uncomfortable whenever they are touched or we are in motion.
In the shower, when we exercise, during sex, while getting dressed, and during the myriad of other activities we enjoy doing, breast pain can reduce our quality of life and for some women the discomfort can be quite severe.
Additionally, when our breasts are surgically treated for cosmetic, diagnostic, or medical purposes we often don’t know how to manage the symptoms post-surgically. Women can have numerous issues in this region as they recover and integrate the physical changes they have gone through.
As a Massage Therapist who specializes in breast health issues, I have treated a wide spectrum of conditions over the years. Regardless of the breast condition, when the tissue is treated and circulation improves, pain either reduces or is completely eliminated.
Most of the women that I work with are initially surprised to hear that there are ways to relieve this discomfort naturally. In fact breast tissue responds very quickly to some simple basic TLC that can be done at home on a regular basis.
Causes of breast soreness~
Whenever the word ‘breast’ is mentioned publically in our society it is usually linked to ‘cancer’. While it is true that we must be vigilant when it comes to early detection and treatment, 90% of cases brought to medical attention are benign.
Here is a list of possible causes of your breast discomfort. Please note that the reasons for pain will shift as you go through different phases of your life. If you’re experiencing pain and haven’t done so already, please see your doctor to determine the cause.
Premenstrual or menopausal tenderness (hormonal)
Pregnancy, breastfeeding (rapid change, functional use, mastitis)
Bra compression/chronic restriction
Inadequate breast support (bra issue)
Referred pain from surrounding tissue (muscle strain, trigger points)
Drainage problems (general tendency/large breasts)
Benign breast conditions (abscesses, cysts, fibrous tissue, duct ectasia)
Breast implants (capsular contracture, implant leakage, calcification)
Breast trauma (car accidents, falls)
Poor quality scarring
Surgical procedures (cosmetic, diagnostic, medical treatment)
Relief for sore boobs~
Here are 6 ways to help reduce the discomfort that we feel. The ability to manage our symptoms can often be life changing.
Your breasts are not in isolation!
Breast health is connected to your overall health. Taking care of your entire body through a healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, plenty of hydration, and the management of stress will be foundational for the health of your breasts.
Remember to find a plan that works for you and your body, and let how you feel be your guide!
Wear the right bra!
By now we’ve all heard the message that most of us are wearing the wrong size. Getting fitted by a professional will make a significant difference. When we wear bras that are too small, too tight, or stretched out, our entire upper body unconsciously compensates for the lack of proper support. This can lead to strain and pain in other parts of your upper body such as your neck & upper back.
For women wearing the wrong size cup, the underwire actually presses into breast tissue. They may not feel this pressure in the moment, but this causes chronic compression of the breast leading to congestion, thickening of the connective tissue, and poor circulation in the region.
Some women avoid certain exercises when they experience breast pain. Invest the money in a high quality sports bra if impact cardio is part of your exercise routine.
After stressing the benefits of adequate support, it is equally important to allow your breasts to move. Our breasts are made up of glandular tissue, fat, and connective tissue. Running through these tissues is the nerve and blood supply as well as lymphatic channels. These channels drain the breast when we are in motion.
If you have access to a rebounder or mini trampoline this will stimulate the lymphatic system in your entire body, helping to flush the stagnant fluid that contributes to your pain. I invested in a Bellicon a few years ago because it uses bungee cords instead of springs making it quiet and smooth. There are however many different kinds on the market today to suit your budget and preference.
On a daily basis jump for at least 10 minutes allowing your breasts to lift off of your chest wall. Try jumping braless and see how that feels. If you have discomfort or larger breasts wear a bra for extra support and do as much as you can. Move your arms and shoulders as you jump to stretch out the entire upper body. Make it fun! You can play your favorite music and use the time to also condition the rest of your body. You’ll find plenty of trampoline workout videos on youtube if you prefer.
If you want an alternative to rebounding, lymphatic stimulation in the breast area also happens during brisk walking, running, or whenever we move without wearing a bra. You can also periodically loosen your bra strap slightly to activate this important function throughout the day.
Stretch your upper body!
Our breasts sit over the muscles and connective tissue of our chest wall. It is important to keep the entire chest, upper back and shoulder region strong, conditioned, and supple. When the surrounding structures are weak, tight, or restricted our breasts cannot drain properly. Additionally, this contributes to poor posture which compounds the problem.
Incorporate upper body exercises and stretches into your daily routine. I like to stretch in the shower when the hot water has warmed up this area. After your workouts be sure to spend at least 10 minutes allowing the muscles to open and relax. This will support the health of your breasts.
Take either one large towel or a few smaller towels and soak them in cold water. Roll them length-wise into a long ‘noodle’ shape. Next, lye down comfortably with a pillow under your knees and head, and cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm if you prefer. Uncover your breasts and begin to wrap the ‘noodle’ along the edges of your breasts in a figure-8 formation. If you have large breasts, lift the outer sides up and tuck the towel underneath.
Keep this in place for as long as it feels comfortable. The cold temperature acts as an analgesic, reducing congestion and soothing your pain. You can do this as often as you like.
Massage reduces tension in the breast tissue, increases drainage, improves circulation and quickly relieves pain. If you have access to health professionals who are trained and regulated in breast massage I highly advise getting this treatment. A trained therapist uses specific techniques tailored to your condition, they can teach you how to self-massage, and there is also the added benefit of having someone other than your doctor regularly monitor this area with you. However if this is not an option, below is a guideline for a basic self-massage.
Use pressure that feels comfortable and relaxing and work slowly. You can treat yourself daily if you have active pain, and weekly to promote overall health. You can treat yourself lying down, in the bath or shower, or whenever you apply body cream. Use your favorite oil or lotion and spend about 5min on each breast. You can follow this up with the figure-8 wrap to increase the benefits.
When it comes to self-massage please do not proceed if you have lactational mastitis, a benign breast condition, a current active infection, an undiagnosed lump, breast implants, breast trauma, scarring, lymphedema, or medically treated breast tissue including irradiated, post-mastectomy or reconstruction. In these cases I strongly suggest that you work with a health care professional such as a Massage Therapist or Physiotherapist, who is trained in breastwork, understands your issues and can treat you safely. A therapist will use specialized techniques to make any scar tissue that you may have more functional, while also reducing any swelling, pain, numbness, or tissue & joint restriction. They can show you how to modify a self-massage routine based on your specific condition.
About the Author~
Asha Mokrosz is a Registered Massage Therapist who helps people get fast, effective results through a unique blend of manual therapies. She specializes in Fascial Remodeling and the Dr. Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage and Combined Decongestive Therapy. She integrates these techniques with specific types of muscular work and general swedish massage. Asha has over 12 years of clinical experience and recently opened The Toronto Breast Health Clinic. TBHC is a specialized Massage Therapy practice that treats all types of breast health issues. To receive regular updates Like The Toronto Breast Health Clinic on Facebook, Sign up for the newsletter, and Subscribe to Asha’s Youtube channel.
Disclaimer: Photo credit.