Rights and wrongs extend to exercise bras, according to a team of researchers at England’s Portsmouth University, and not knowing or heeding the difference can damage breasts. These bras are tools of a kind for immobilizing and supporting breasts during high-impact activity. In so many words the scientists are expressing a key principle of ergonomics: make sure the tool fits the task and that it fits the individual user: one size doesn’t fit all.
Led by Dr Joanna Scurr, a breast biomechanics expert, the scientists in the Department of Sport and Exercise Science found that some women’s breasts could be damaged and fragile ligaments irreparably stretched by wearing the wrong bras. The team tested about 50 bra designs on hundreds of women over the past three years and studied the movement of women’s breasts. The tests included measuring precisely how much breasts moved in all three directions, as well as more subjective tests about how women felt about the fit, the shape, the strap design and the underband and so on. The researchers found that breasts move up to 8.26 inches during exercise and they move up and down, in and out and from side to side. Most bras are designed to limit just vertical movement.
Wendy Hedger, a researcher on Dr Scurr’s team, said in a news release issued by the university that many women have strong preferences for certain styles of bra and won’t buy anything else. “They won’t even look at anything that doesn’t look like the sort of bra they are used to wearing. In sports bras, for example, many women won’t buy a bra that resembles their everyday bra and does up at the back – they think if it can’t be pulled over their heads like a crop top then it’s not a real sports bra. But this is not true, and many sports bras do up at the back in the same way as a traditional bra and do a very good job of supporting women.
The researchers noted that some women cause breast pain or discomfort by not buying the right sized bra and ignorance or embarrassment can play a role. There’s a social stigma about certain sizes, according to the team. Many women don’t want to be seen as too small or too big and buy a bra that doesn’t fit well in order to be what they consider to be a normal size. Many other women are unaware that they are wearing a badly fitting bra or unknowingly wear the wrong bra size because they are routinely being sold ill-fitting bras.
Source: Portsmouth University