Sports bras let women down

// 11 September 2007

Finally, somebody seems to have noticed that having breasts can really get in the way of women participating in sport, as The Times reports.

An estimated 60 per cent of women suffer breast pain during exercise — even during gentle activity — and others are embarrassed by their breasts bouncing when they run.

Pain caused by breast movement affected women of all cup sizes, whether they were an A-cup or a JJ, Joanna Scurr, of the University of Portsmouth, found. Just as significant, she said, was the finding that breasts move as much during a slow jog as when women are sprinting at top speed.

The sports scientist cited the example of a 16-year-old who gave up basketball — despite being selected to play for her county — because she was unable to find a suitable bra.

They concluded that the best form of support available at present was an encapsulation bra, which had separate moulded cups, rather than a compression bra which flattened the breasts to the chest wall.

Encapsulation bras, said the researchers, allowed each breast to move independently and they provided more sideways support.

Sports bras have long-since been a major bugbear of mine – I compete in martial arts on a national level and yet have terrible trouble finding a sports bra that fits me. It’s only been in the last few years that sports bras have been available in anything below a 34 back size or above a D-cup at all. Imagine my horror when, overjoyed to find a sports bra available in a 30E, the straps wouldn’t adjust short enough for anybody below 5ft8. Cue many hours of cursing my lack of sewing ability whilst altering it.

I very much hope that manufacturers take this research on board, but perhaps it would also be helpful if they realised that small women require sports bras too.

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