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Binding safety

Binding - or chest binding - is when a trans person wears a tight garment to flatten their chest.

Find out the safest ways to bind your chest.

How to bind safely

There are health risks associated with binding, which can include damage to your chest, ribs, lungs, posture, nerves, and skin. Binding can also reduce skin elasticity, which impacts the effectiveness of top surgery if you chose to have it at a later time.

Because of these risks, it is very important that you bind as safely as possible, and if you have any questions about binding, please get in touch.

If you don’t have a purpose-made binder, use these tips to help you bind as safely as possible until you can get one.



  • A purpose-made binder.
  • Sports bras.
  • Layers of shirts.
  • Neoprene waist trimmer over a singlet.
  • Medical compression shirts.
  • Breathable fabric is important.
  • Remove it before you exercise.
  • Remove it for sleeping.
  • Wear it less than 8 hours a day.
  • Practice our stretching exercises.
  • If it hurts – stop.

Not safe


  • ACE compression bandages.
  • Seran wrap.
  • Lunch wrap.
  • Duct tape.
  • Any tape that’s not kinesiology tape.
  • Wearing it during exercise.
  • Wearing it to bed.
  • Wearing it for more than 8 hours a day.
  • Becoming stiff across your chest and
  • back (by not stretching).
  • Anything that hurts – binders are often a little uncomfortable but they shouldn’t cause pain.

Breathing and stretching

Binding leaflet - see text below this image.

[image] Binder Leaflet.
Effective Breathing.
Re-produced with permission: Dynamic breathing for asthma: Clifton-Smith and Bradley 2008 Random House.

When we breathe well at rest there is minimal movement and we have loose shoulders. On the “in breath” the diaphragm flattens (belly goes out) and on the “out breath” it rises.

Try this belly breathing exercise.
Lie in a comfortable position with your knees bent. You may find it useful to rest a wheat pack or book on yor belly to help you focus attention on breathing low to your belly. Try breathing in and out through your nose. As you breathe in your belly should rise and when you breathe out it will fall again. Take gentle, comfortable breaths. Keep your chest relaxed.
Overhead Box Lift.
Imagine you are reaching up to put a box high on a shelf, or slide hands up the wall. This will stop your back and shoulders getting stiff.
Bow and arrow. Imagine you are holding a bow and arrow – move one arm backwards as though you are pulling the string – you can rotate your mid back at the same time to increase the stretch if tolerated. Repeat on the other side too.
Top tips. Try and avoid exercising or sleeping in a binder if you can. Keep your back and shoulders flexible (binders can restrict movement).
Logo by Physiospot.


These binder safety stretches are brought to you in collaboration with Physiospot Wellington.