Hi Hayley,

Your recent core posts inspired me to ask you this question. I am a 36F which has its perks (ha!) but this also means I am very uncomfortable sitting on the floor/stools/benches/anything that won't provide back support. Within 5 minutes my back - particularly in between my shoulder blades - starts to ache like crazy and I'm constantly shifting around and changing my position and can't concentrate on whatever I should be concentrating on. I think this is because of my large chest. I've been trying to work on my posture, but do you know any exercises that would help me put less stress on my back? NB: I'm a tight budget, so no Pilates/yoga classes for me right now.



You need to focus on your posture! Strengthening the muscles in between your shoulder blades is a must. If you have access to a workout facility you need to make friends with the machines that will strengthen your back, like the lat pull-down and the seated row. When you are doing these exercises you MUST focus on two things: ensuring that you begin the movement by activating the muscles in your back, not your arms, and focusing on contracting your core muscles so that you are sitting up tall. Think about trying to touch the middle of your shoulder blades together while doing these exercises, without letting your ribcage pop forward. The biggest mistake I see when people perform exercises for their back is isolating the wrong muscles, and by wrong muscles I mean their shoulders and chest.

If you do belong to a health facility look into what classes they offer. Some places, like the YMCA and YWCA offer Pilates and Yoga classes that are included in your monthly fee. You can also download Pilates and Yoga videos that you can do on your own at home which will help improve your flexibility, core strength and posture.

You may also want to get into a massage therapist (which is usually covered under medical care) or a physiotherapist or chiropractor to help release back and neck tension as well as realign your spine.
And weight loss is also important, as most women with larger breasts usually see a significant decrease in bust size with a loss of 5 or 10 pounds. I know that you say being a 36F has its benefits but a smaller bust size is also beneficial and would almost guarantee an improvement in the amount of discomfort you experience in your daily life.

Aside from strengthening your core and posture muscles, weight loss, and chiropractic or massage therapy, have you ever considered having a breast reduction surgery? I have worked with many larger busted women and most of the time the only thing that does help relieve back pain, as well as the pain from bra straps digging in, is surgery. I understand that this is a huge decision but it may be something that you want to talk over with your doctor as this type of surgery to relieve pain is almost always covered under your medical. 

Start out with a change in your lifestyle, cutting back on sugars and increasing your daily lean protein and vegetable intake. Take yourself to the gym a few times a week and do lower impact exercises, such as cycling and incline treadmill walking, as well as posture exercises that focus on mid back strength.  If neither of these help alleviate your back pain then I suggest you sit with your health care professional and discuss other options.