Buying a bra can be an overwhelming experience -- how do you go about choosing from the many styles, sizes and types? Most of us start by getting out the tape measure to help us find the right band and cup size. However, scientists from the Breast Health Research Group at the University of Portsmouth have found that over 70 percent of women are wearing the wrong bra size (White & Scurr, 2012). You can narrow your search by using band and cup measurements as a starting point, but be sure to try on many, different styles and sizes of bras. There are also several sizing methods available that take into account breast type, spacing, shoulder shape, spine curvature, and even age (eg. HerRoom.com). See our quick fit guide to the left for some good tips.
Now you might side with French scientist Jean-Denis Rouillon in going completely braless. In his 15-year-long study, which included hundreds of women, he found that those who embraced freedom from bras over the long-term had better chest muscle tone and circulation, resulting in a lift of up to 7mm per year more than women who wear bras. However this method doesn't work well for sports enthusiasts, as improper support during exercise often results in breast pain.
Wearing a lacy, sexy bra, that makes your breasts pert, can make a woman feel confident and attractive, but bras also provide support, especially for large breasts, which in turn helps improve posture and reduces back and neck pain. Running or other high impact exercises cause the breasts to bounce up and down, which over time can break down connective tissue. Breasts are made up of fat, not muscle and are only supported by a ligament called the Cooper’s Ligament. So during exercise, protect your breasts and reduce the bounce by wearing a supportive sports bra.
Many women who have larger breasts and higher body mass experience breast pain, however, regardless of size, active women are not excluded from breast pain. White and Scurr (2013, 14) found that 32% of female marathon runners suffer from breast pain and 24% of the women studied had small breasts (A cup or smaller). Many women (17%) reported changing their exercise routines, as a way to deal with the pain, but White and Scurr have found that well-fitting sports bras can reduce movement by about 54%, while also reducing muscle tension in the upper body, resulting in less breast pain and a more efficient running style.
Running should not be painful! Many people would say that achy legs after running is a good thing, however, breast pain while running is bad, and it doesn’t have to be like that. A proper sports bra is the answer.
The Beat the Odds race against cancer is coming up on August 25
and NAO would like to offer you a couple of coupons to help you find the perfect supportive bra for the race, and for your lifestyle.
*A good rule of thumb: replace your sports bras when you replace your running/workout shoes.
NAO Employee, Heather Johnson-Smith received sports bra fitting training in the UK and would be more than happy to assist any woman find a sports bra. She works Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6-8pm. “Your bras are as important as your running or workout shoes,” - Heather Johnson-Smith.
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