Q: I was wondering about back cleavage, that line that lots of women get down the back that comes from trying to fit too much flesh into too small a garment, and (as I have found in my own case) occasionally from attempts to lace oneself. Some people think it is bad. Is it really bad for the spine? I know it is certainly unattractive, and I try to avoid it. I also know that I can squish down several inches past the back-cleavage point. I love corsets, but I am a young and poor student, and cannot afford the investment right now, so I wear the ones I have as often as possible, but while they are well-done none of them are custom-made. Is proper, long-term tightlacing a solution to this "back cleavage"? Is there any other way to help it, or minimise it, besides a modesty panel?
  --- Katie  (11/1/09)

A:  There are two separate issues here, the first as to if there are adverse physiological effects, from back cleavage: What is being compressed in this case are the two large vertical muscles, that run on either side of the vertebra. Depending on how much pressure is exerted, it could cause them to cramp after some time. It also limits there degree of motion, and that also can produce cramping. But, again, this depends on the degree of compression that is exerted on them. More critical is a sharp transition above the corset where the delta muscles are located. The lateral pinch can cause cramping, or even spasms. Thus the very top of a corset should never produce a hard edge against that muscle. Some have more or less adipose tissue to help distribute the pressure and minimize that risk.

The second issue is that when tightlacing, the production of back cleavage is the result of not spreading out the muscles periodically. During the tightening process keep in mind that the corset is closing in the back, thus without a liner or undershirt everything tends to be pushed towards the center line or spine. Periodic resettling with body twists and stretches and smoothing out of the undershirt or tube will help minimize or even prevent back cleavage. Also move the fingers under the grommet strip or line up and down, to slightly lift that away from the muscles and skin and try to massage them back to the left and right, counteracting the shift towards the center caused by the lacing.

Repeat this several times during the lacing process and the cleavage should be minimized and it will be easier to lace closer.


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