Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic
According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.
Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.
This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.
- Practice daily movement and stretching
Increasing circulation and stretching key muscles in your body can help release some of the tightness that builds up from the daily postural stress associated with binding.
One possible routine would start with five minutes of movement of your choice (walking, dancing, jumping jacks, etc) to increase general blood flow to your muscles.
Then spend 30-60 seconds performing each of the following stretches:
- Trapezius muscles:
- From a seated or standing position, tilt your right ear towards your right shoulder, imagining your neck growing long towards the sky before settling into the tilt.
- This should bring a stretching sensation into your left neck muscles and trap muscles (the chronically tight muscle between your head and your shoulder.
- If you want more of a stretch, you can reach up with your right hand and gently apply a bit of overpressure, being careful not to crunch your head down, but instead allowing more length in your neck.
- Pectoralis minor muscle:
- Find a doorway you can walk through.
- Bring your right arm up and out to your side like a goalpost
- Then place your right elbow and right wrist against the doorframe.
- Your elbow should be level with your shoulder.
- Slowly lean your torso forward into the door opening while keeping your elbow and wrist in contact with the doorframe.
- If this stretch creates any pinching sensation in your shoulder, you can alternatively lie atop a foam roller placed vertically along your spine (head and hips supported) and drop your arms out to the sides.
- Side stretch:
- Reach your arms overhead if that is available to you, or plant your hands on your hips.
- On your inhale, reach and lean upwards and over to your left side.
- If your arms are overhead you may want to grasp your right wrist with your left hand.
- You should feel a stretch along the right side of your body through your ribcage.
- Cobra stretch:
- lying face-down, place your hands under your shoulders with your palms down and fingers pointing forwards.
- Draw your elbows back and in towards your sides so your shoulders won’t hunch up by your ears.
- Then press up gently until you feel a generalized stretch through the front of your chest and abdomen.
Look out for next week’s post for tip #2!
The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.
In happiness and health,
Dr. Sandy Baird, DC
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675
All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.
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