Equestrian Hub Blog: Should Female Riders Wear a Sports Bra?
I recently wrote this blog at the request of Equestrian Hub to provide sports bra advice to their female readers so thought I would put a copy here to help all female riders find the best bra for them!
I recently (I have been busy recently!) read a statistic that around 90% of marathon runners say they always wear a sports bra, yet as few as 14% of horse riders follow suit. So should more horse riders wear a sports bra? Absolutely YES!
I have seen and heard of so many women at events wearing two or three bras and even taping themselves to hold their ladies down! You don’t have to be big busted to experience breast bounce. It is a real issue for female riders, regardless of cup size.
Unfortunately our breasts are not a muscle that we can train. They consist mainly of mammary glands and soft tissue with limited support provided by delicate Coopers Ligaments and the surrounding skin. Horse riding creates a large amount of vertical breast movement. Any form of repeated breast movement results in tension and strain on these ligaments, causing irreversible damage and sagging. Think of the Coopers Ligaments like a simple rubber band…if repeatedly over stretched a rubber band will not bounce back to its original size.
Many studies have investigated breast pain associated with sport, especially long distance running. In 2016 a study was finally conducted specifically with female horse riders. Over 40% of participants said they experience breast pain in the saddle, with 21% reporting that it affected their riding. The trot and canter involves large vertical movements of the horse’s body, which requires considerable effort by the rider to maintain a good stable posture. This is even harder for females that are
dealing with breast momentum too.
Sports scientists testing the effectiveness of bras found that sports bras can prevent bounce by up to 80%, while normal everyday bras were only 38%.
Benefits of a Sports Bra for Female Riders
Aside from the obvious benefits of wearing an appropriate sports bra to reduce the risk of breast damage and pain, reducing breast bounce can significantly improve your riding performance. Horses are so in tune with their rider they can detect discomfort. It has been shown that a horse’s heart rate increases as a direct response to tension in the rider. Wearing a sports bra will provide a much more comfortable ride, helping both you and your horse to stay relaxed.
A well fitted sports bra not only reduces breast bounce, but also reduces breast displacement. There is nothing like a breast popping out over the top or side of your bra to cause real discomfort and affect your ride. Breast bounce and displacement is the most common factor causing feelings of self consciousness or embarrassment for female riders.
Which Sports Bra?
It is essential to choose a well fitting, high impact sports bra for horse riding, but there are also some other features you should consider;
Shape/Style: If you like a flattened look under your jacket, choose a bra that compresses the breast tissue against your chest. Alternatively if you prefer a more defined shape look for a bra that encapsulates each breast separately.
Coverage: To reduce breast bounce and displacement a bra with higher coverage is a better option. Avoid bras that expose cleavage as this often results in breast tissue escaping during excessive movement.
Band: The band of a sports bra is responsible for supporting the breast and controlling the bounce. It needs to fit firmly (more so than your everyday bra) and not move up and down your back during activity.
Straps: Shoulder straps add stability, but should not take the weight of your breasts. Over-tightening the straps can cause you to hunch your shoulders and affect your posture in the saddle. Ensure a snug fitting band rather than too tight straps. Regular straps or racer back style is down to personal preference, but ensure regular straps are designed well to prevent them slipping during your ride.
Under wire: Again this is often personal preference. Unlike everyday bras, it is a misconception that a sports bra must be under wired to have the best support. Sports bras are much more technical in design and many non wired sports bras offer the same or greater support than wired styles. Many women prefer the softer comfort of a non wired bra.
Top 3 Bras for A to D Cups
Super soft smooth shape with new underwire technology providing the fit of an underwire, with the comfort of none.
Light weight, racer back, extremely supportive wire free sports bra.
Soft, stylish and incredibly lightweight. Racerback straps that are easy to adjust at the front.
Top 3 Bras for DD+ Cups
Underwired bra with heavy duty support and uplifted breast shape. Wider straps and band for comfort.
Lightweight, soft and very supportive. Seamless, wirefree cups and comfortable padded straps.
Extreme support, wirefree and racerback. Silky soft to prevent any rubbing.
For all cup sizes the PINKCLOVER Breastband is a fantastic addition to any sports bra. It is worn over the top of the bra to add additional compression support across the top of the breasts. This further reduces upward movement and bounce, optimising support in all directions and maximising your comfort.
For more sports bras suitable for horse riding visit our dedicated Equestrian / Horse Riding page.