Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Do you have back pain?

I got this piece of information through my email last night. Thought it is quite a common problem for most people. Sometimes I do experience some back pain due the sitting down for too long and incorrect way of sitting. A little adjustment would be able to help in my case for most time.

A few years back, lower back problems could have been termed rare, however today it’s become as common as the common cold. If doctors are to be believed almost 95 per cent of the population suffers from low back pain at some point in their life. Says Dr Surya Prakash, an orthopedic surgeon, “Almost 50 per cent of my outpatient turn up has this complaint. Most are in the age group of 20 to 40.” While most often people tend to neglect such pain, they are advised not to, for it could get serious, resulting in sciatica (slipped disc), spondylolysis or spondilolythesis.

That’s exactly what happened to Vinai Rajaram, a research scholar, whose work in the lab involved sitting at one place for long hours, studying samples and carrying out experiments. “Eariler I thought it was normal back pain and neglected it. I would sit at one place for 5-6 hours at a stretch. Then when I started feeling a kind of numbness in my legs, I checked with a doctor and was told that it’s just the beginning of spondilolysis. I’ve been advised to wear a lumber belt while working,” he says.

Though not peculiar to any particular profession or age group, doctors owe lower back pain to jobs that involve sitting at one place for long hours. “Sitting down puts more pressure on the back than standing upright. When you sit, you are straining your vertebrae and the spinal chord. Sometimes, owing to the mismatched heights and sizes of the table and the chair, people tend to raise themselves with the support of their butt to read what’s written on the computer. This again puts a lot of pressure on the back and also the shoulders.

The pain then starts radiating either from the back to the shoulders or to the legs,” informs Dr Narendra Nath, an orthopedic surgeon.
Explaining the extent to which this can damage the backbone and spinal cord, Dr Prakash says, “Sitting alone doesn’t cause any severe problem as such. However, it weakens your vertebrae to such an extent that you are more prone to injuries.

The pressure imposed on the spinal cord can cause your discs to bulge, thereby pressing against the spine.” Under such conditions, a small jerk, even bending down to pick something can cause the discs between the vertebrae to slip. The condition is called sciatica or slipped disk.

Though people respond to non-surgical methods of treatment for slipped discs, sometimes surgery is required. Another condition referred to as instability in common terms could be caused due to repetitive stress and not taking breaks in between sitting.

“Many people neglect their pain and think that it would subside with a day’s rest. But’s that’s not true with every case. If the frequency of back pain is higher, we check the patient for spondylolysis and spondilolythesis.

In these the patient develops tiny cracks and fractures in his backbone due to repeated stress or prolonged negligence of low back pain. Severe cases require surgery, otherwise wear a lumbar belt,” says Dr Prakash. So if you don’t want to end up wearing one to work, follow the above mentioned rules.

Back rest:

* Take a break every 25 minutes if your work requires you to sit for long hours. Take a walk for at least three minutes before you get back.

* Keep changing your sitting position to give your back some rest.

* The best position would be to move back into your chair and cross your legs. So that you have a slight slouch when you sit. A bolt upright position causes maximum stress to the back.

* Chairs shouldn’t be bolt straight, they should curve and tilt according to the mild contours of the body

* Never neglect back pains because they could also be caused due to certain underlying conditions like gynaecological problems, surgical changes, bone or tissue growth, etc.

* Exercise is important, it strengthens your backbone and makes your body flexible.

* Visit a doctor when you suffer from one and practice the spinal exercises that the physiotherapist suggests.

How To Prepare Yourself To Quit Smoking!

I got this in my inbox yesterday and thought it is pretty useful information for you. Hope that it can help you or any of your family or friends who might be thinking of quitting smoking.

Quitting smoking isn't easy but millions of people have quit over the past several years. Many more are seriously thinking of quitting due to the fact that they are more aware of the dangers of smoking. Public opinion has also had an impact, as has second hand smoke issues. Check out these tips. They will surely prepare you in your quest to becoming smoke-free!

- List all the reasons you want to stop. Every night before going to bed, repeat one of the reasons 10 times.

- Decide positively that you want to stop. Try to avoid negative thoughts about how difficult it might be.

- Develop strong personal reasons to stop in addition to your health and obligations to others. For example, think of all the time you waste taking cigarette breaks, rushing out to buy a pack, hunting for a light etc., or of all the money you'll save.

- Begin to condition yourself physically: start a modest exercise program; drink more fluids; get plenty of rest; avoid fatigue.

- Have realistic expectations -- stopping isn't easy, but it's not impossible either. More than 3 million Americans stop smoking every year.

- Understand that withdrawal symptoms are temporary and are healthy signs that the body is repairing itself from its long exposure to nicotine. Within 24 hours of abrupt smoking cessation, withdrawal symptoms may appear as the body begins its healing process.

- Relapses occur in the first week or two after stopping, when withdrawal symptoms are strongest and your body is still using all your personal resources. Willpower, family, friends, and any tips that work for you will help you get through this critical period successfully.

- Bet a friend you can stop on your target date. Put your cigarette money aside every day, and forfeit it if you smoke. (But if you do smoke, don't give up; simply strengthen your resolve and try again.

- Ask your partner or friend to stop with you.

- Tell your family and friends that you're stopping and when. They can be an important source of support both before and after you stop.

Tips To Use Just Before Stopping...

- Practice going without cigarettes.

- Think of stopping in terms of one day at a time.

- Stop carrying cigarettes.

- Don't empty your ashtrays. This will remind you of how many cigarettes you've smoked each day, and the sight and smell of stale butts will be very unpleasant.

- Collect all your cigarette butts in one large glass container as a visual reminder of the mess smoking represents.

Tips For The Day You Stop Smoking...

- Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Hide lighters and ashtrays.

- Clean your clothes to rid them of the cigarette smell.

- Develop a clean, fresh, nonsmoking environment around yourself. Buy yourself flowers -- you may be surprised how much you can enjoy their scent now.

- Make a list of things you'd like to buy for yourself or someone else. Estimate the cost in terms of packs of cigarettes and put the money aside to buy these presents.

- Keep busy on the big day.

- Buy yourself a treat or do something special to celebrate.

- Stay away from other smokers if they could weaken your resolve.

- Remember that one cigarette could ruin a successful attempt.

- Remember that alcohol or other drugs will weaken willpower.

Tips To Help You Cope With The Urge To Smoke...

First, remind yourself that you've stopped and you're a non-smoker. Then, look closely at your urge to smoke and ask yourself:

- Where was I when I got the urge?

- What was I doing at the time?

- Who was I with?

- What was I thinking?

Think about why you've stopped. Repeat to yourself (aloud if you are alone) your three main reasons for stopping. Write down your three main reasons for stopping. Anticipate triggers and prepare to avoid them:

- Keep your hands busy -- doodle, knit, type a letter.

- Avoid people who smoke -- spend more time with non-smoking friends.

- Find activities that make smoking difficult (gardening, exercise, washing the car, taking a shower).

- Put something other than a cigarette into your mouth. Keep oral substitutes handy -- try carrots, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, or sugarless gum.

- Cut a drinking straw into cigarette-sized pieces. Inhale air.

- Use a mouthwash.

- Change your surroundings when an urge hits; get up and move about, or do something else.

- Avoid places where smoking is permitted.

- Look at your watch whenever an urge to smoke hits you. You'll find the urge will only last a few minutes.

- Wear a rubber band around your wrist. When you really feel like you want a cigarette, snap the rubber band a few times and in your mind say STOP. While you do this, picture in your mind a red stop sign. You might try this at home aloud a few times and then do it silently when in public.

- Be prepared for the "first times" as a non-smoker: your first vacation, first time home alone, first long car ride, first period of boredom.

- If you know you will be in a high-risk situation, plan how you will get through it without smoking.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How to negotiate salary

Some information which might be helpful to you when you are having your job interview and you want to know how to negotiate for the compensation package. Please do note that this is in US context so you would have to use the information where it is applicable in your country. Hope it helps.

Deal or No Deal: Negotiating Salary
By Cheryl Ferguson

Talking about money during the hiring process should feel nothing like being a contestant on a nerve-wracking game show. Job candidates who prepare before the interview and adhere to some specific principles during the negotiation will eliminate much of the guesswork in the equation.

Before the Interview

Know what you want and prioritize what's most important to you in your next role --money, more responsibility, work/life balance, a shorter commute, corporate culture --before you begin interviewing.

Locate an industry association contact that can provide you with relevant compensation information. This will also help you know that jobs you apply for pay well enough for you. Remember, however, that variables such as company size, economic conditions, and availability of qualified candidates in the market need to be factored into your information-gathering process.

When and How to Talk About Money

Keep in mind that companies typically have salary ranges budgeted for specific roles within the organization. Exceptions aren't all that common. The only flexible items in a job offer may come down to things other than salary -- a signing bonus, moving up your review date, additional vacation time -- and could be an alternative to a higher salary.

Be prepared. You should be ready to convince the recruiter that you are worth the dollar amount at the higher end of the salary range. The easiest way to do this is to provide very specific examples of how you can add value to this organization -- just like you've done throughout your entire career.

Be upfront. When asked about your compensation requirements during the initial telephone interview, let the recruiter know where you stand. "I'm looking at opportunities in the $60-70,000 range, but can be flexible for the right opportunity." It's acceptable to ask if you're in the correct range for the position, and important to know so that both parties can make an informed decision about moving forward without wasting time. Remember, the role of the recruiter differs at each organization, so don't underestimate the influence this person has on the decision-making process.

Be respectful. If an offer is presented that is lower than what you hoped, thank the presenter. Ask if there is any flexibility in one or two of the areas that you've identified as being a priority for you. Regardless of the answer, always say you need time to consider the offer. Don't start negotiating new terms immediately.

Be firm. If there is no flexibility in the offer, you can accept it as is, or politely refuse and walk away. If the company is flexible on your terms, agree on all the new details in one conversation so that you can move forward with the next step in the process -- signing and returning the written offer letter.

Above all, be professional. Your actions during the negotiation process will be remembered by everyone involved long after you're hired, and may be helpful when it comes time to ask for a raise. As before, early preparation is the key to success in getting the salary you want and in taking away the feeling that you could be playing "Deal or No Deal."

Cheryl Ferguson is a Seattle-based recruiter (
) with both staffing industry and corporate experience. She places candidates across all industries, disciplines and levels at both large and small companies nationwide.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Skin care: Top 5 habits for healthy skin

Your busy lifestyle leaves little time for pampering skin care. The result: Your skin isn't the baby-soft body glove with which you were born. With age, your skin gradually becomes thinner and finely wrinkled. Oil-producing (sebaceous) glands grow less active leaving your skin drier. The number of blood vessels in your skin decreases, your skin becomes more fragile, and you lose your youthful color and glow.

Good skin care — such as avoiding the sun, washing your skin gently and applying moisturizer regularly — can help delay the natural aging process and prevent many skin problems. These simple skin-care habits will help you protect your skin to keep it healthy and glowing for years to come.

1. Protect yourself from the sun

The best way to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. Ultraviolet light — the invisible but intense rays of the sun — damages your skin, causing deep wrinkles, dry, rough skin, liver spots, and more serious disorders, such as noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) skin tumors.

For the most complete sun protection, use all three of these methods:

- Avoid the sun during high-intensity hours. The sun's rays are most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reduce the time you spend outdoors during these hours.

- Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also, keep in mind that certain clothing styles and fabrics offer better protection from the sun than do others. For example, long-sleeved shirts offer better protection than short-sleeved shirts do. And tightly woven fabrics such as denim are better than loosely woven fabrics such as knits.

- Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen liberally 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours, after heavy sweating or after being in water.

2. Don't smoke

Smoking can accelerate the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to wrinkles. Skin changes from smoking can be seen in young adults who have been smoking for as few as 10 years.

Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin. This decreases blood flow, depleting the skin of oxygen and nutrients, such as vitamin A, that are important to skin health. All of these factors increase damage to the elastic fibers (elastin) and collagen which give your skin strength and elasticity.

In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — may contribute to wrinkles. It's also possible that repeated exposure to the heat from burning cigarettes may damage your facial skin over time.

3. Wash your skin gently

Cleaning is an essential part of caring for your skin. The key is to treat your skin gently.

- Use warm water and limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time to about 15 minutes or less, and use warm, rather than hot, water.

- Avoid strong soaps. Strong soaps — those most capable of stripping oil from your skin — can leave your skin dry. Instead, choose mild soaps with oils and fats added to them during the soap manufacturing process.

- Avoid irritating additives. If your skin is sensitive, avoid products containing perfumes or dyes. These can irritate your skin and may trigger an allergic response.

- Remove eye makeup carefully. Use a soft sponge, cotton cloth or cotton balls when removing eye makeup to avoid damaging the delicate tissue around your eyes. If you wear heavy, waterproof makeup, you may need to use an oil-based product such as petroleum jelly.

- Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on the skin. Immediately moisturize your skin with an oil or cream.

4. Moisturize regularly

Moisturizers help maintain your skin's natural moisture levels. They work by providing a seal over your skin — to keep water from escaping — or by slowly releasing water into your skin.

The moisturizer that's best for you and the frequency with which you need to moisturize depends on many factors, including your skin type, your age and whether you have specific conditions such as acne. A good way to test if you need a moisturizer is to wait 20 minutes after bathing. If your skin feels tight, you should apply a moisturizer.

Select a moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to help protect your skin from damaging ultraviolet rays. If you have sensitive skin, look for products free of heavy dyes, perfumes or other additives. If your skin is very dry, you may want to apply an oil, such as baby oil, while your skin is still moist. Oil has more staying power than moisturizers do and prevents the evaporation of water from the surface of your skin. If your skin is oily, you may want to skip moisturizing.

5. Shave carefully

Shaving is a common and inexpensive way to remove unwanted hair. But shaving can cause skin irritations, especially if your skin is thin, dry or very sensitive. For a smooth shave:

- Press a warm wash cloth on your skin before shaving to soften the hair. Or shave after a warm bath or shower.

- Don't shave dry skin, which can cause razor burn. Apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving to protect and lubricate your skin.

- Use a clean, sharp razor. If using an electric razor, don't use the closest setting, which can irritate the skin.

- Shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it.

- Rinse your skin afterwards with warm water.

If irritation does occur, apply a lotion that doesn't contain ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. Though alcohol and alcohol-based products may feel cooling, they don't really soothe irritated skin because the alcohol evaporates rapidly from the skin.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Detox

Posted by Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.
on Thu, Nov 23, 2006, 3:22 pm PST

If your Thanksgiving plate resembled a family-style buffet doused in lard laden gravy, worry not. This 72-hr detox plan is the perfect recipe to combat the Thanksgiving weight-gain disaster. Garnish with 8-10 cups of water and a daily multivitamin and dive in. Your stuffing will skedaddle and you'll be back in your skinny jeans in no time!

Day One

Vegetable Omelet with Toast: One omelet made with one whole egg and two egg whites, and stuffed with vegetables (try spinach, onions, tomato, mushrooms or zucchini sautéed in 1 teaspoon olive oil). Cook omelet in a nonstick pan or coat a regular pan with cooking spray. Serve with one slice of high-fiber bread (any brand that has 2 grams fiber and no more than 90 calories per slice). Optional coffee or tea (plain or with skim milk, no sugar)
Soup and Salad: One bowl of minestrone, black bean, or lentil soup (approximately 2 cups or 300 calories of any prepared brand with nutritional information, such as Healthy Choice, Amy's Organic, Campbell's Healthy Request). Eat with a mini whole-wheat pita (any brand, 70 calories), and a green salad tossed with one tablespoon of low-fat dressing (or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a small dash of olive oil).
Afternoon Snack: One skim milk cappuccino or latte (optional teaspoon sugar or Splenda) or 8 ounces nonfat, flavored yogurt (any brand 120 calories or less).
Sweet Wild Salmon: Mix together 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce and 1 tablespoon honey. Drizzle over a 6-ounce wild salmon fillet and broil for 10-15 minutes, basting every few minutes. Serve over a large mound of arugula leaves, with 1 cup steamed broccoli.

Day Two

Cereal with Fruit: 150 calories of any high fiber (five grams or more) cereal (i.e., Kashi Go Lean, Nature's Path Flax Plus, Barbara's Grain Shop, All Bran, Fiber One). Serve with 1 cup skim milk or low-fat soymilk, and ½ sliced banana or ½ cup berries. Optional coffee or tea (plain or with skim milk, no sugar)
Turkey/Cheese Sandwich: Toast two pieces of reduced-calorie whole-wheat bread (no more than 60 calories per slice). Layer one slice of bread with 1 teaspoon reduced-fat mayonnaise, unlimited spicy mustard, 2 ounces smoked turkey (or lean ham) and one slice of low-fat cheese. Top with a thick slice of tomato, onion and the remaining slice of bread. Handful of baby carrots and unlimited celery.
1/4 cup of pistachio nuts in the shell + 1 cup of green tea
Steak & Veggies: Green tossed salad with 2 tablespoons low-cal dressing. One 6-ounce fillet mignon or sirloin (trimmed of fat, with optional 2 tablespoons ketchup or steak sauce) served with 1 cup steamed vegetables.

Day Three

Cottage Cheese with Grapefruit: ½ grapefruit with 1 cup nonfat or 1% reduced fat cottage cheese (or 1 cup non-fat, flavored yogurt) topped with 2 tablespoons wheat germ.
Bauer's Power Salad: Unlimited lettuce and raw vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, etc.) mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of low-fat dressing (or unlimited balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon olive oil) and topped with one of the following: 4 ounces grilled wild salmon; 6 ounces grilled chicken breast, turkey breast, tofu, or ham; Plus, the option to add a 1/2 cup of either chick peas, black beans or low-fat cheese.
One apple + one Laughing Cow Light cheese triangle.
Chinese Take Out: Order steamed seafood, tofu or chicken and vegetable entrée (such as steamed chicken and broccoli). Request garlic or ginger sauce on the side, and order a small container of steamed brown rice.
Pile your plate with the steamed entrée and flavor it with 1 Tablespoon of the sauce and unlimited low-sodium soy sauce. Eat it with ½ cup brown rice.

Check out Joy Bauer information here!

Friday, November 24, 2006

How to protect your email from Spam

Imagine yourself preparing an important presentation. Suddenly, the Outlook Express installed on your computer pops up a message saying 'Buy Viagra for cheap' or 'Trying to sell you a business that pays you thousands of $$ every week'. Most Internet users are familiar with such unwanted emails in their Inbox.

Lately, however, you must have noticed an increase in this kind of 'junk mail' to your your email address, or on your favourite newsgroup. These junk mails, also known as spam, are flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force it on people who would otherwise choose not to receive it.

Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products like get-rich-quick schemes. Spam costs the sender very little -- most of the cost is paid for by the recipient or the carriers, rather than by the sender. Email spam targets individual users with direct mail messages. Email spam lists are often created by scanning Usenet postings, stealing Internet mailing lists, or searching the Web for addresses.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you control the amount of spam you receive.

How to eliminate spam:

1) Try not to display your email address in public:

This includes newsgroup postings, chat rooms, Websites and online services membership directories. You may want to opt out of member directories for your online services -- spammers use them to harvest addresses. Also, disguise your email address when you post it to a newsgroup, chat room, bulletin board, or other public web pages. For example, use ankurjain_del AT rediffmail DOT com. This way, a person can interpret your address, but the automated programmes spammers use often cannot.

2) Check the privacy policy when you submit your address to a Website:

See if it allows the company to sell your address. You may want to opt out of this provision, if possible, or not submit your address at all to Websites that won't protect it. Also, look for all the check boxes that have been checked by default while you fill and submit any form.

3) Use two email addresses:

Try to use two email addresses -- one for personal messages and one for newsgroups and chat rooms. You also might consider using a disposable email address service -- this can be a separate email address that forwards mails to your permanent account. If one of the disposable addresses begins to receive spam, you can shut it off without affecting your permanent address.

4) Use a unique email address:

Your choice of email addresses may affect the amount of spam you receive. Spammers use 'dictionary attacks' to sort through possible name combinations at large ISPs or email services, hoping to find a valid address. Thus, a common name such as ankurjain may get more spam than a more unique name like a11nkur2006jain. Of course, there is a downside -- it's more difficult to remember an unusual email address.

5) Use an email filter:

Check your email account to see if it provides a tool to filter out potential spam or a way to channel spam into a bulk email folder. You might want to consider these options when you're choosing your Internet Service Provider. Do your part by keeping your junk email filter up-to-date.

6) Never hit the 'REMOVE' button:

Most spam mail you receive contains a line that says 'Reply with subject line as UNSUBSCRIBE to remove your email address from our mailing list'. When, in fact, you reply to unsubscribe, what happens is that you simply verify you have a valid email address. As a result, you get even more spam instead of getting removed from the list.

Some spam relies on generators that try variations of email addresses at certain domains. If you click a link within an email message or reply to a certain address, you are only confirming your email address is valid. Unwanted messages that offer an 'unsubscribe' option are particularly tempting, but this is often just a method for collecting valid addresses that are then sent other spam.

Take, for example, the :
URL: This URL contains a tracking ID will be mapped to your email ID in the site's database. The spammers would be sending you email with this URL behind the link. Whenever the user accesses this URL, the spammer can be sure the email address associated with this tracking ID is a valid one.

Many people have documented the fact that not only do 'Remove' lists not work, they verify to the spammer that your e-mail address is good. The spammer then puts it on a premium CD and sell it to the next spammer for even more money.

7) Be responsible and considerate as a user:

We ourselves promote spam in some way or the other. Some people consider email forwards a type of spam, so be selective with the messages you redistribute. Don't forward every message to everyone in your address book. If someone asks that you not forward messages to him or her, respect their request.

8) Keep your antivirus programs updated:

Spam is a cat-and-mouse game, with spammers working relentlessly to outwit the filters. There have been some viruses reported, which help in spamming by sending a pre-set mail to all your Outlook contacts using your email address. When the recipients open their mail, their system also gets infected and mails are sent from their system to all the contacts in their address books. So, by keeping your antivirus programme updated, you can detect these viruses, stop their entry into your computer and prevent spamming from your mailbox.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

How To Choose a Bra

An interesting artcle that I received in my inbox today. Ladies, are you getting the right size and style that would make you comfortable and prevent your breats from getting out of shape. For the guys, pretty good information on helping you to choose the right one for your loved one.

When you walk into a lingerie store or boutique and ask about buying a bra, are you asked what color you like, or are the salespeople taking the time to help you to select the correct size and style of bra? There are health, comfort and appearance-related issues involved with selecting the proper bra. If the salespeople take the extra time to ask the right questions, you will be happier with the bra you purchase.

Breasts are possibly a woman's most distinctive feminine feature, adding to her beauty and sex appeal. Despite this, many women do not properly look after their breasts and wear bras which do not fit well, offer little support, and displace the breast tissue, pushing it under the arm or flattening it around the breast wall.

You must think of buying a good, well-fitting bra as an investment with both present and future benefits, not only will it prevent your breasts from drooping in the future, but you will also immediately look slimmer and more in proportion. A bra that bulges and doesn't fit properly will spoil the most expensive dress.

"To get the right results, however, it is very important that you wear your bra correctly. While this may seem silly to women who have been putting on bras for years, there is indeed a proper way to do it."

Signs that your bra is not right for you include:
Red marks on your shoulders caused by your bra straps.
Breasts forced over the top of the cup in a double bump.
The center of your bra does not touch the breastbone.
Your breasts are drooping or looking generally out of shape.

Any or all of these signs could indicate that you are wearing the wrong bra size. that's not only uncomfortable, it can also over time, distort the shape of your breasts and cause a variety of health problems, from headaches to backaches and even migraines.

The Correct Size - Do you find that:
Your bra rises up at the back, thus not supporting the weight of your bust.
Your shoulders are being pulled forward.
Your bust is not properly supported and falls forward, instead of being in its central position.
As you move, your bust bounces up and down and the straps keep falling off unless you tighten them, in which case they dig into your flesh, causing red marks.

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you are probably wearing a bra with too large an underband and too small a cup, and you may well be experiencing both shoulder and neck pains.

In addition, because your breast is bigger than the cup, it pushes against the sides of the bra. for an underwired style, this can be harmful, as well as extremely uncomfortable. Remember, your bras should always fit accurately. cups should be just right; not too big, but deep enough to contain the whole of the breast.

The Correct Style
Small Bust: To make the most of a small bust, try a balcony style bra, with or without padding. this can give you an enhanced neckline, excellent uplift, and a lovely, curvy shape. Half-cup bras also flatter a smaller bust; padding at the sides and under the bust give maximum lift. Avoid bras that have square-cut bust lines; they'll flatten you even more.

Large Bust: for women with larger busts, wider shoulder and back straps give firm support. Full cups contain the breast better and give a better appearance. Underwired bras provide better support under the bust. Smooth, plain bra styles, without too much lace, help to make your bust appear smaller.

Just as you don't have one pair of shoes to match all of your clothes, you will need at least a couple of different bra styles for your clothes to look good. Tailored suits and shirts look best with a bit of uplift and firmer control, but when you're wearing jeans and a T-shirt, you may just want a soft, seamless bra to shape you and to go with clingy tops. Wear flesh-colored bras to avoid showing through, and backless bras with a low-cut party dress or sun top. Wear dark-colored bras under dark tops; there's nothing worse than showing a glimpse of white bra under a black top.

Also, if you're losing weight or if your weight varies over the course of the month, a bra with a little lycra or stretch is more accommodating and won't crease under clothing. Remember, your breasts will change with diet, pregnancy, exercise, age, and taking the Pill. Women whose breasts inflate before their period should have a special bra for these days, as their size can go up premenstrually. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can make a woman rise one full size in a week. Avoid underwire during pregnancy, as breast may become to fragile and sensitive.

Health Matters
Wearing the wrong size bra or a badly fitting bra can result in back problems, headaches, neck strain, rashes, and pulled ligaments. This happens when the bust is not well supported by the bra, because your breasts may begin to droop and fall to the bottom of the cup. The breast tissue will role off the chest wall and under the arm, thus pulling on the neck. This can result in headaches, since the muscles being pulled in the shoulders go all the way to the head. Reduced blood flow to the head can cause headaches and backaches, as the extra weight of the bust places more pressure on the back.

These problems can be remedied by wearing the right bra. In this case, an underwire bra will take the strain and open up the chest so that you can breathe properly. It allows the proper blood flow to rebuild.

Sports Bras
Research in Great Britain has found that of the total number of women who exercise, 77 percent don't' wear a sports bra, and of this figure, 19 percent don't wear a bra at all. the remainder wear a regular bra or crop top. This is bad news, considering that any excessive breast movement puts a huge strain on the ligaments that hold the breasts in place, causing them to stretch, and resulting in long-term sagging.

To stay in shape, a well-designed sports bra is as essential as a good pair of trainers; an everyday bra doesn't give enough support during exercise. Sports bras are specially designed to allow complete freedom of movement while holding you firmly in place, and are made from specialized fabrics that channel moisture away from the skin to the outside of the fabric. They come in different shapes and levels of activity, and include seamless cups for a natural outline, racer backs, and cotton-rich materials that allow the skin to breathe.

Lingerie Care
Ideally, your bra should be washed every day, by hand. This will remove body oils, preserve the color of your bra, and lengthen its life. If you have two bras and wear them in turn, washing each one after a day's wear, they should last for three months. Never put bras in a clothes dryer. Air dry only.

Some Facts
Breast sizes are growing. The average size has gone from a 34B to a 36C over the past 10 years.
Twenty years ago a DD cup was unusual; now G cups are not uncommon. Changing diet and the Pill are the culprits.
Bra-wearers are getting younger. Twenty years ago, 12 and 13 year old bought teen bras, now eight and nine year olds are taking the plunge.
Today, the biggest selling color is white, while ivory and cream are a close second. In 1971, skin tones were bestsellers, and were second favorite until about five years ago. Tea rose was the favorite from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Higher numbers of separations, divorces, and remarriages have boosted the demand for attractive lingerie.

To make sure you have the right size, check that:
The back of your bra does not ride up, otherwise the underband may be too big, and you could need a smaller size.
Your bra straps are not falling down or digging into your shoulders. If they are, you may need to adjust them or use wider straps or use shoulder savers.
Your flesh does not squeeze over the top of your bra. If it does but feels fine everywhere else, the cup size is too small.
Your finger can pass under the band in front. Your bra should be comfortable but not tight, otherwise you need a larger band size or you must fasten your bra at the next looser hook.
The middle of your bra lies as flat as possible against your breastbone for a comfortable fit.

To get the right results, it is very important that you wear your bra correctly. While this may seem silly to women who have been putting on bras for years, there is indeed a proper way to do it. We recommend that you follow the following steps when putting on your bra:

Put your hands through the straps so that the straps are over your shoulders; bend forward from the waist and adjust your breast position so that your breasts are completely within the cup with the nipples being at the fullest point within the cup; make sure the hooks are fastened at the middle position; stand up and adjust the straps so that your breasts are at the right level; and make sure that the bra does not rise at the back and is comfortable without being too tight.