Sports Bra Science Keeps Larger Breasted Woman Moving
Sports bras have come a long way from their humble beginnings as simply two jock straps sewn together. Considerable scientific and technological research goes into designing and making modern sports bras. And who is the benefit of all this effort? Us, the sports bra user.
All women benefit from wearing a good sports bra and this benefit increases along with breast size. During exercise, our torso’s move in all different directions and at different speeds. This varies from sport to sport but given the breast is essentially a mass of soft tissue with no muscle and limited internal support our breasts move in a motion independent of but driven by our torso. The bigger the breast the bigger the motion.
Our upper body lurches one way to reach a tennis ball with our breasts essentially being ‘left behind’. When they finally ‘catch up’ we lurch the other way. A lot of ‘ouch’ if they are left unsupported! It is this movement that sports bras work to arrest, minimising our breasts motion independent to our body’s movement. This can reduce pain and discomfort and even improve sports performance.
Sports Bras Improve Technique
It has been shown that over a five kilometres distance a sports bra can improve your running technique. Making your technique more efficient compared to wearing an everyday bra or no bra at all. Those of us who have ever run without good support can attest to the affect bouncing breasts can have on our running form. Distraction!
The larger the breast size the larger the demands placed on a sports bra as well as on your body. Many larger breasted women suffer from sore shoulders and backs. It’s simple mechanics; a larger mass on your front places additional strain on your posterior chain of muscles. The muscles that run down your back that are key to correct posture. If these muscles are placed under increased strain, they will require more energy and effort in their working.
Our Breasts are Getting Bigger
Add to this that our breasts are getting bigger with an annual British survey indicating average size increasing from a 14C to a 14DD in recent years. That is a mass increase of 430g! Does not sound like much but over a 5km run it adds up to a lot of extra effort. Further research has shown that larger breast size can put women off participating in sport and can compromise performance.
Enter the modern sports bra. The technical design and scientific testing carried out by many brands coupled with developments in materials and fabrication techniques mean many modern sports bras work well at keeping things in check. Allowing you to perform better with less discomfort. This provides a significant benefit for all women who exercise.
Good design and construction does come at a cost though. A top-quality sports bra can cost upwards of $100. But I would say it is worth it for the reduced pain and discomfort. We runners do not baulk at paying $250 for a good pair of comfortable and supportive shoes so why do we skimp on sports bras and then wear them to death? I for one was guilty of this but as I have gotten older, I really have learnt to appreciate the importance of good breast support when exercising. Both on my comfort and performance. And also, on reducing the dreaded ‘sag’ that comes with aging. We can’t fight gravity, but we can slow its affects!
Sports Bras Have Their Limitations
However, there are limitations to what a sports bra can do. All sports bras offer support, and some do an exceptionally good job. But no sports bra provides 100% support. Some elite athletes have gone to more extreme lengths to solve the breast support issue. Tennis player Simone Halep had breast reduction surgery to go from a 12DD to a 12C. Post-surgery her ranking rose from 450 to being number three seed at Wimbledon in 2014. Now I am certainly not suggesting you have breast reduction surgery, far from it. I am just highlighting how performance can improve when you get your chest under control.
Of course, having large breasts does not rule you out from participating in sport. So, what can you do? Firstly, Choose a sports bra that is the most supportive & best fitting for you. A proper fitting, supportive sports bra has been shown time and time again to help eliminate sports induced breast pain.
Secondly, look after your investment! Look after it and treat it with the care it deserves to ensure it continues to function at it’s best for as long as possible. But remember a sports bra should never have a birthday!
Thirdly, add another layer of support. Sports bras are great at holding you up but not so great at holding you down. When you exercise what goes up must come down. Excessive upward bounce can place extra stain on you and your sports bra. Couple your bra with a breastband for all round total support.
All athletes need support and a great sports bra is an important part of it.