Sports bras have been the hottest topic of emails, Google alerts and press releases sent to me over the last week. Indeed, a mention of a forthcoming post on Twitter brought several “interested” tweets in reply (that two of these were from men does perhaps raise the opportunity for a future blog about the “attractiveness of sports bras in the 21st century’! Hmmm!).
Anyway, back to the more vital topic of sports bras and their benefits for women. By now, most women should know about the importance of wearing a good sports bra. Whether well endowed or less so it is vital that all women wear a supportive and well-constructed sports bra for all kinds of sports. This is not only relevant to trampolining and running (where you’d imagine there will be a great deal more bounce) but also for sports such as yoga and Pilates.
If you are still in doubt about the merits of a bra in relation to your physical good health (and we’re talking irreparably stretched Cooper’s ligaments, aka long-term sagging) then read my article that appeared on the website SoFeminine
Are your boobs affecting your running speed?
This week I was alerted to another piece of persuasive research. This time the study was less about the damaging effects of breast movement for the body, and more about how movement could mess with athletic prowess.
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth attached reflective markers to the breasts of a group of female runners and had the women jog along a track while wearing various types of bras, and without a bra.
What they found was that breast sway did, in fact, have a significant effect on the women’s running. When the runners were braless, their strides changed; they landed more heavily, with more of the impact force moving through the inside of their feet. This alteration in stride seemed to be related to “significantly higher amounts of breast movement in that direction”.
As the breasts swung from side to side, so, in effect, the researchers reckoned, did the women’s body weights. This doesn’t bode well for larger-chested women, especially if they have not found themselves a supportive sports bra. As a leading researcher on the study said: “Higher forces exerted by the foot when running indicate a higher intensity of stress for a runner. This has potential to increase physiological demand.” The extra forces also, over time, can “lead to the development of stress-related injuries.”
A sports bra for all sports
But it seems that more women are now aware of the importance of wearing a good sports bra, especially when it come to a range of different sports. A survey conducted by a leading on-line retailer LessBounce.com found that more than 40% of respondents had more than five sports bras, with 64% having different sports bras for different sports.
founder, Selaine Saxby, is delighted that women are finally getting the message about owning a range of bras to suit each sport. (Of course, someone who owns an on-line bra company will be keen to encourage women to buy more bras but she does make some good points.)
She said: “While a sports bra for a high-impact sport, such as running or aerobics, can normally be used for a low-impact sport, the reverse is not true for a low-impact bra sports bra if designed for walking or Pilates. Each sports bra offers different support and construction and therefore suits people with different breast sizes taking part in different sports. For example, when running the bra needs to hold the breasts in place to avoid both up-and-down bounce as well as sideways swaying.”
The survey also found that despite tighter purse strings, 95% of women bought their sports bra based on support rather than price. Saxby added: “If new to exercise one high-impact sports bra that does the job for all exercise is the best investment.
However, for those already training regularly, old high-impact sports bras can be downgraded for use for low-impact training before going in the bin.”
But the bin is not used as often as it should be – the research also found 26% of respondents only replace their sports bra every one to two years. A sports bra is a technical garment and the elasticity is damaged by repeated wash and wear – the recommended replacement cycle is every 30 to 40 washes.
A previous project with Roehampton University found that even sports bras that had been handwashed showed poorer performance after washing and wearing just 35 times.
Where to buy your sports bra
Fit is important so it’s a good idea to visit your local sports retailer to try on a number of sports bras. Many on-line retailers will let you return any bras that are not suitable.
To underline the need for a range of different sports bras, this year has seen leading sports bra brand Shock Absorber
launch a range of sports specific bras which has reinforced this point.
Great 10% discount offer
Leading on-line sports bra retailer LessBounce.com is offering all readers of this blog a 10% discount on purchases made before the end of the year (Dec 31, 2010). To claim you 10% discount when buying a bra or bras simply use the code FO10 in the coupon code box and the dicount will be applied at the checkout. Usual terms and condition apply for Less Bounce sales.
Other recommended retailers:
Supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco also offer a range of budget-friendly sports bras.
And for the guys…
Don’t overlook your own need for support while doing sport