This blog post has been guest-written by Tessa Hinds, a Physiotherapist at Physio @ Sandringham.
Over half of women in Australia who take part in sport are at risk of losing natural elasticity because they don’t wear a sports bra. Yes, you read that right - over half of the women in Australia! Many studies in recent years also report that 70-80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size, which can also greatly impact your health and well-being.
Upper back pain, neck pain & headaches.
As physiotherapists we are always assessing and considering the biomechanics and anatomy of various body parts and their relevance to pain and stiffness. Breasts have been linked to upper back, neck pain or headaches and should be taken into consideration like any other body parts! Breast size fluctuations happen often throughout your life and have been associated with chronic headaches and musculoskeletal pain. This is one of the leading reasons women seek reduction procedures.
With the support of a well-structured sports bra, you can reduce breast bounce when exercising by around 80% - even in D+ cup sizes. Not only does this stop pain and discomfort, it also helps you to get active without embarrassment or feeling like your breasts could knock you out.
17% of women reported breast pain as a barrier to exercise participation.
If you have ever experienced exercise-induced breast pain, you certainly are not alone. Biomechanical studies have concluded that breasts should move in a butterfly pattern to reduce strain on supporting structures. Technical sports bras have been developed in line with this and the best sports bra brands spend many months (even years) researching the right style, fit and fabrics to make your sports bra as effective as possible.
When you mention breast pain and exercise, an obvious image springs to mind of a woman running with no bust support. But the truth is that reduced breast support has also been shown to have an adverse effect on your gait or walking pattern. The effects can include reduced arm swing, altered stride length and foot strike pattern, and increased use of chest muscles to improve support for breast tissue. If you have never worn a sports bra designed to support fuller-bust sizes, it's possible that your lack of breast support could be contributing to other musculoskeletal issues.
It's not all about your running shoes.
Although running shoes and bra fittings need very similar considerations including fit, support and comfort, in a world where many of us are obsessed with activewear, it's often your shoes and outfit that get all the attention. But perhaps the most important layer of your workout wardrobe is a good-quality sports bra. And this is especially true for women who wear D-K cup sizes.
So ladies, if you think lack of breast support may be contributing to your musculoskeletal issues or preventing you from participating in exercise, speak to your physiotherapist and consider having a specialised bra fitting today!