Firstly, it’s great that you want to bind safely!
As you’re here, you are probably binding or are interested in it. Good idea to check how to bind safely! There are very simple things that you can do, to have the best experience possible while binding.
So, what is binding?
In case you don’t know, binding is the act of flattening breast tissue. Doing this is common for nonbinary and transgender people who have breasts and want to make their chests appear more masculine/flatter. Some cis women who feel more comfortable with a flatter chest also do this.
Is it possible to bind safely?
When done right, yes. There are risks, but they can be minimised when you bind safely. Each binder brand has their own recommendations about how to bind safely, but there are rules that apply to all binders that you can follow to stay safe.
Can you bind safely using bandages or duct tape?
Some people have used bandages and duct tape to bind in the past, but these are both very dangerous. Do not use these methods, ever. They can break your ribs and as a result prevent you from binding at all.
1) Buy from a good brand:
Buy from shops which are known for good binder quality. This is the safest option. Brands like GC2B, Spectrum Outfitters, and Underworks have lots of reviews from trans people and are currently the safest options. You can find many reviews for each brand online.
Can you bind safely with cheap amazon binders?
No matter what, don’t buy from somewhere like Amazon as those binders are much more risky. This is because they’re cheaply made and therefore more likely to hurt you. The companies listed above make binders specifically for trans people and are all queer owned (except for Underworks). They have the safety of trans people as a top priority.
2) Get the right size:
Buy the size that’s right for you. A size smaller than you need doesn’t bind better- it will only injure your body (possibly seriously). The right size binder will make most people flat enough. If you still feel that you need to be flatter, there are other things like layering clothes that can help. Recheck your size often.
3) Wear it in slowly:
If you have a new binder, you should wear it for just an hour or so a day to begin with, and slowly build up to wearing it for longer. This tip is especially important if you are binding for the first time as you and your body need to get used to it. This also helps to break in your binder.
4) Don’t wear it for more than 8 hours:
While the recommended limit varies depending on the binder company, 8 hours is the golden rule. Try not to go over this limit as much as possible. Take breaks several times if you can during the 8 hours too- this is a precaution to make you less likely to get injured.
5) Remember to stretch:
Binders restrict your movement and muscles, so try to stretch every time you take it off. There are resources online that give you specific stretches to do- these mostly focus on your chest, back, and surrounding muscles. If you’ve been binding for a long time straight, take off your binder in the toilets or somewhere similar to stretch.
6) Take rest days:
Your body needs time to rest. Any day that you can have a break, take it. If you’re sick and/or staying at home, then it’s the perfect time to have a rest day. If your body hurts, have a rest day as well if you are able to. Resting is very important in order to bind safely. If your dysphoria is very bad, try things like wearing oversized clothes and sports bras to cope with a break.
7) Don’t exercise or sleep in a binder:
When exercising or sleeping, your chest expands more to take in more air. Binders restrict this, making (possibly serious) injuries very likely. Some companies make binders that are specifically for exercise, but if in doubt, use a sports bra. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. There are no safe binders for sleeping.
8) Listen to your body:
At the end of the day, your body will tell you what it needs. Is your chest is hurting or you feel short of breath? Take your binder off and have a break. Are your muscles aching, feeling stiff or anything similar? Stretch in a bathroom or somewhere else where you feel comfortable. Feeling overwhelmed by binding? Take it slower. The safest way to bind is to accept what your body needs you to do.
9) Wash your binder often:
Binders are basically underwear. That means that they get sweaty, which can cause bacteria to grow on it. Washing your binder every few days or more often is ideal. However, this isn’t always possible, especially if you only have one binder that you wear most days. In that case, wash it as often as you can to avoid getting an infection, and try to get another binder to make it easier to wash them more frequently.
10) Be careful in hot weather:
It is easy to overheat while wearing a binder. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and wear light, breathable clothes. Also, stay in cool, shaded places so that you are less likely to overheat. In extreme heat, you should avoid wearing it altogether.
Congratulations! You’re all set to bind safely.
This post isn’t a definitive list of ways to bind safely. Injuries can still occur even if you follow every single guideline exactly, but it’s much less likely to happen than if you didn’t follow the guidelines. Ultimately, your body will tell you what it needs, like to rest, to stretch, or to take it slower. Listening to what your body tells you is the most important thing you should do, so if you only took one thing away from this article, let it be that.
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Stay safe and have a good day.