According to a 2019 study by the Shock Absorber Sports Institute (SASI) at Portsmouth University, 9.5 million women in the UK are not supporting their breasts properly when they run.

Why you need a good fitting bra for sport?

Experts claim that wearing the wrong size or type of bra for exercise can lead to neck and back pain, breast pain and irreparable damage to the ligaments inside the breast which can result in breasts drooping and stretch marks.

The stretching of the coopers ligaments in your breast often leads to droopy or sagging breast tissue and once done this damage can’t be undone.

Women believe saggy breasts are due to the size of your breasts however it is actually due to the stretching of the ligaments that hold your breast tissue in place.”

Lisa Ndukwe, senior designer at Sweaty Betty

At least 32 percent of female runners report discomfort as a result of an ill-fitting sports bra, according to research published in The British Medical Journal. Discomfort isn’t just sore breasts; it could be anything from straps digging into your shoulders, a chest band that’s too tight, or lack of ventilation, and even chafing.

When running, according to research by SASI on average, a woman’s breast moves 9.08cm with every stride. This is large amount of movement and a study by Brooks Running Co and Portsmouth University showed that this could mean you lose 4cm per stride which, over the length of a marathon, could translate to running an extra mile!!

What level of support do I need?

This essentially will depend on what sport you are playing if you are taking part in high impact sports such as running you will need more support. If in doubt more support is better than too little support.

1. Low-impact sports bras, used for Pilates, yoga or walking, are often cut like a crop-top and are, on the whole, made from thinner material.

2. Medium-impact sports bras are a mix between the two, these can sometimes be used for running, but are often not suited to larger-breasted women.

3. High-impact bras generally use less stretchy material, include supportive seams and overlays and are sometimes even underwired.

Pregnancy and sports bras

As your breasts change size and shape during pregnancy its important to get a bra that can adapt to your body’s changes. Maximum support is the best option whatever sports you may be playing.

If you are running or taking part in more high impact sport you could use a maximum support bra and a crop top or vest top over the top to increase the support, just be careful you are not over heating!

Is your sports bra a perfect fit?

According to the experts at Portsmouth University, the criteria for whether a sports bra is the right fit includes:

Band – The band should fit firmly around the chest. It shouldn’t slide around with movement, but it should not be too tight to be uncomfortable, affect breathing or make flesh bulge over the band. The band should be level all the way around the chest.

Cup – The breasts should be enclosed within the cups, with no bulging or gaping at the top or sides. If the cup material is puckering then the cup size is probably too big.

Underwire – The underwire should follow the natural crease of the breasts and not rest on any breast tissue (in the centre, underneath the bra or under the arms). If the underwire is resting too far down the ribcage (such as where the ribcage gets slightly narrower) the band size is probably too small.

Front – The front of the bra (the lower edge under the breasts and between the cups if a separate piece exists) should sit flat against the body and not gape away from the chest. If the front of the bra is lifting away the cup size may need to be increased.

Straps – The shoulder straps should be adjusted to comfortably give breast support without being too tight (such as digging into the skin). The main support for the breast should come from a firm band, not tight shoulder straps.

How long does a sports bra last?

This shocked me and immediately I should be throwing them all out although my bank balance wont allow such a thing!

According to experts you need to change your bra every few months or after 30/40 washes. As a rule they say three new sports bras to one pair of running trainers.

The technical fabric of your sports bra will wear in the washing cycle, and its elasticity will diminish during use. To prolong the life of your sports bra, try not to tumble dry it: the heat will destroy the fabric on your bra.

I hope you found my latest blog post on women’s health helpful, please comment below if you are enjoying reading my blog posts.

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