We’ve covered the types of sports bras and how to match your sports bra to the level of exercise intensity in out Buying A Sports Bra article, but what we want to deep dive into today is the problems associated with not wearing a sports bra.
Many women with larger bust sizes often wear multiple crop tops as a substitute for a structured support sports bra. Often, wearing bras that are too small or the wrong type of bra can cause the compression of the ribcage and reduces chest movement. You might not feel like you’re short of breath, but exercising in the wrong type of bra or in no bra at all can make breathing shallow, negatively affecting the concentration of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the blood. This means that your recovery time will be vastly increased and won’t be as effective. Without wearing a well fitted sports bra, women often recruit secondary breathing muscles in the neck, shortening the neck and often leading to neck pain.
Refusal to exercise
Many studies have been conducted, particularly on young women with larger cup sizes (D and up), that have concluded that women without proper support are more likely to sit out of physical activity. This was found to be due to a variety of reasons, all leading back to adequate support.
Embarrassment or fear of being judged
Pain or discomfort
Breasts get in the way of activity
By utilising the technology of a structured support garment, women’s confidence in physical activity skyrockets. This is also a great reason to get fitted, making sure the sports bra is suited for not only the activity you’re performing, but also suited to you, your body type and your goals.
Studies have shown that breast pain and discomfort occurs as the breast tissue can move up to 21cm during exercise and as the breasts move out of sync with the trunk of the body. This puts strain on the supporting glands and ligaments in the breast and can cause ptosis (sagging). When these glands and ligaments are stressed, this can then pull down the throat and facial tissue, causing premature sagging and wrinkle development.
A study published by the Journal of Sports Science in 2011 followed twenty-one A-Cup and D-Cup participants who had markers attached to their nipples and chest to calculate the displacement between the two points with and without a sports bra. The below image is a representation of the displacement while the participant was running on a treadmill at their maximum.
<span>The butterfly movement of the nipple (green marker) compared to the movement of the trunk of the body (white marker).</span>
The study concluded a good sports bra can cut that movement in half — by 53 to 59 percent for As and Ds, respectively, as it pulls the breasts in to more accurately align with the trunk of the body and move as a unit, which is more like a man.
Irreversible breakdown of breast tissue
Breasts are heavy. The average D cup puts 1kg of stress on the chest, 500g per cup. Because of this weight, physical activity puts a lot of strain on the Cooper’s ligaments, the fibers inside your breasts that give them their perkiness. In fact, referring to the Cooper’s ligaments as ligaments rather than fibers is misleading, as they are primarily dividers that separate glands in the breasts, glands which drain to the nipple during lactation. Once these ligaments are stretched, it is permanent. These fibers are sensitive and when damaged or stretched, affect the structural integrity of the breast. Wearing a correctly fitted sports bra can keep the breast in place while exercising and slow down this stretching.
So how do you find the best sports bra to stop all of this?
After you read our What To Do Before You Buy A Sports Bra article, some things you may want to look out for when buying a new sports bra include:
good upward and sideward support
limited motion of the breasts relative to the body
absorptive, non-allergenic, non-abrasive, and mostly non-elastic materials
well-covered fasteners on both sides
wide and non-elastic straps that do not slip off the shoulders
no riding up of the bra over the breasts by a wide cradle or underwire
pockets inside the bra to enable the placement of padding, if needed
Or you can speak to one of our in-house expert fitters by visiting one of our stores!