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Bouncing Boobs and the Business of Bras

ATTENTION: If you don’t have breasts you might want to turn away now.

I’m on a bit of rant and it’s all because of your boobs.

My attention has been drawn to your breasts because the streets of Bath are currently peppered with people training. I pass large numbers of fabulous women runners pounding the pavements ahead of the Bath Half! I salute you all, but here’s the thing ladies, your boobs should not move as you do!

Why do I care?

The average breast size in the UK is a 34D which is 500g per breast. That amounts to 1kg of extra weight. Each breast is only supported by 2 weak structures: the skin itself and ligaments named the Cooper’s ligaments. These structures are important for maintaining the integrity of the breast wall and the shape of the breast. Too much intense movement can cause these ligaments to stretch and tear.

If the breast moves 60% or more, then irreversible damage can occur. The Cooper’s ligaments and skin will not return to their original shape once stretched. This can lead to a case of mastalgia (breast pain) and breast ptosis (breast sag). But don’t think that if your breasts are smaller than 34D you are ok. It affects us all, large or small.

But it’s not ONLY about the stretch and sag

Research conducted by Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr and her team at the University of Portsmouth has suggested that not wearing a correct fitting sports bra can have an effect on your performance.

They found ill-fitting bras changed breathing patterns. Their subjects took shallower and quicker breaths because there is more pressure on their rib cages.

If you still aren’t convinced, they also found a there was a change in running gait. Stride length was decreased by 4cm, the range of movement in the arms decreased coupled with reduced body rotation. All these changes were found to slightly change a person’s foot strike pattern.

This makes a sports bra vital during exercise and it’s been found that most of us wear the wrong size bra. So how do you know if the bra your wearing is right for you.


Different activities require different amounts of support: - Low-impact sports like weight lifting and yoga, all many women need is a low-impact support bra. - Medium-impact support is better for hiking and cross-training. - High-impact support is designed for high-motion activities like running and mountain biking.

• Band – check the band is firm (1-2 inches give) and level around the whole body. It should also move with you rather than independently and if it is adjustable, start on the loosest setting. Wide bands are more supportive. And should be snug around your rib cage but no too tight. You should not be able to pull the strap more than 5cm from your spine.

• Shoulder strap – should there be no more than 5cm space when you pull the shoulder strap up towards your ears. It should not fall off the shoulders or dig in. If you have broader shoulders, then you may benefit more from a cross-strap bra.

• Cup – always check if the breast fills the whole cup and that there is no bulging or wrinkling of the material. You should not see breast tissue around the sides.

• Underwire – check that it is not sitting on the breast tissue itself at the front or at the under arm.

• Supportive – when trying it on. Check for movement. Make similar motions to the activity you are doing.

• Comfort! Your bra size can change over time. Weight gain, weight loss, pregnancy and age all have an effect on your bra needs. So don’t blindly assume you need the same size each time, try the bra on and check it still fits and works perfectly for you. There is no time limit as such on the ‘life’ of a bra. The more you use it, the more the under band will lose its firmness. The life of a bra can also be determined by how you wash it, so be sure to follow the instructions and to always wash it inside out. A general rule of thumb is replace it every 6-12 months.

So please ladies, no more jangling jugs. Keep ‘em tight to your chest.


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