A good sports bra is essential if you intend to fill the lockdown gym gap with high-impact activities like running.
According to a study by the Research Group in Breast Health (RGBH) in the UK, your bust moves up and down about 4cm per stride while walking and up to 15cm during running.
And as more active women have done just that, GPs have reported a rise in cases of runner’s boob – a condition characterised by pain in the breasts due to excessive movement.
Fit for purpose
Supportive bras are beneficial for a range of physical activities, including both low- and high-impact activities, and exercise of short or long duration. But the right size and level of support are vital.
An ill-fitting sports bra can cause discomfort, chaffing, irritation, upper back and neck strain, and general discomfort and pain.
It also strains the breasts’ supportive tissue, known as the Coopers ligaments. This can result in Cooper’s droop, a condition caused when damage to these ligaments results in irreversible stretching.
Making the right choice
Wearing a perfectly fitted, good quality sports bra prevents permanent damage to the breast by supporting and holding them firmly in place so that they don’t move independently of the body during physical activity.
A suitable sports bra should be an essential element of every woman’s workout wardrobe, but choosing the right one for your type and level of physical activity is not always as straightforward and as easy as it may seem. It must also look and feel good, especially if worn as outerwear during exercise.
Levels of support
- Light support – mainly for low impact training, like in the gym.
- Medium support – good for spinning and general training.
- High support – needed for running and high impact aerobics classes
A performance benefit
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth looked at the effects of different levels of breast support on female runners. They found that breast movement impacted women’s running considerably — the better the support, the less stressful the stride.
Without support, the researchers found that women hit the ground with more force, which may have negative physiological consequences on performance. In addition, research shows that when women run their breasts don’t just move up and down, but also side to side and forward and back.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.