Ask The Binding Coach

Answers to your questions about healthy chest binding and trans health from Frances Reed, author of Healthy Chest Binding for Trans & Non-Binary People.

Is it normal to have pain when you first start binding?

Is it normal to have pain when you first start chest binding?

Q: I just started binding. I have been taking breaks and have only worn it for 2 days for less than 8 hours and I am having a lot of chest and shoulder pain and a hard time breathing. Is pain normal when you first start binding?

A: The pain you are experiencing and the difficulty breathing indicate that your binder is not a good fit. When you first start binding, there can be some initial soreness as you adjust but the pain that you are describing is most likely an indication that you are wearing a binder that is too small.

I want to applaud you for easing into binding and taking breaks, those are two of the things that can prevent pain and discomfort. I recommend wearing your new binder for a few hours at a time for the first 2 weeks and testing what it feels like to do the activities that are most common in your day to day life. In this way, the body adjusts and you learn when, where and how to wear/not wear your new binder.

I cannot provide medical advice but I advise discontinuing wearing it entirely and evaluate whether the pain subsides. Often it takes several days to stop feeling soreness after hours spent in a binder that is too small. If you are experiencing sharp, stabbing pain in your ribcage, see a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor.

You can read more about finding the right binder size in “How do I know if I am getting the right size binder?”

Headshot of Frances Reed, a white, non-binary person with a bright purple and blue mohawk. They are wearing glasses and a patterned blue and white shirt and smiling into the camera.

Frances Reed, The Binding Coach

About The Binding Coach

I’m Frances Reed (they/them). I’m the author of Healthy Chest Binding for Trans & Non-Binary People: A Practical Guide, and the creator of

I’ve been a licensed massage therapist since 2011, and I support people at all stages of gender transition. I’m here to answer your questions about binding, no matter how big, small, silly, or serious.

Frequent topics include healthy chest binding, finding or wearing a chest binder, self-massage for people who bind, self-care for trans folks, or other topics on trans health.

More Healthy Binding Resources

Buy The Book

Buy The Book

The book Healthy Chest Binding for Trans and Non-Binary People: A Practical Guide contains best practices for binding and 23 exercises that you can do on your own to reduce and prevent pain.

Binder Finder Tool

Find The Perfect Binder

Our Binder Finder search tool helps trans and non-binary people discover the ideal chest binder to fit their unique body and budget. Explore diverse styles, prioritize safety, and express your authentic self with this essential search tool.

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