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Finding your fit: the quest for the perfect sports bra

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© Thinkstock - Finding your fit: the quest for the perfect sports bra
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When it comes to your breasts, it turns out that too much bounce is bad for your health. Whether you’re small, large or somewhere in between, a sports bra is an essential item for every sporty woman. This season there’s a budget-friendly trend for wear-all-day sports bras. Fiona Russell took a few for a trial run.

It’s not often that you see your own boobs bouncing. But chances are you’ve noticed this phenomenon in other women - at the gym, passing runners on the street.

I am only a little ashamed to confess that my young daughter and I operate a “boobies bounce-o-metre” for female joggers, where a 10 is “it’s a knockout,” and a five is, “new bra must be in the wash today.”

Now it’s my turn to turn the bounce-o-metre on myself. Following the instructions of Pamela Andrews, a Glasgow-based sports injury specialist, I am running on the spot in front of my bedroom mirror and giving my own bosom a score.

I’m wearing my age-old favourite sports crop top bra, and when I look, what shocks me is that while I am definitely less-than-well-endowed, there is still a definite three out of 10 going on.

“If you’re not wearing a decent, well-fitted sports bra, then your bosom, whether its smaller or larger, will most certainly move up and down as well as side to side,” says Andrews. “In the long-term this can lead to irreversible damage.”

Put more technically, “during high-impact exercise, unsupported chests can bounce by as much as 21cm. This causes the breasts’ main support system, the Cooper’s ligaments, to be put under stress, which will lead to them being stretched. Once these ligaments are stretched they never recover and that causes the chest to sag.”

So while keeping fit is good for your health, exercising without a good sports bra is bad for your breasts.

It seems that most sports should come with a “‘no bounce’ health warning.” Medics at the University of Portsmouth found that breasts move as much during slow jogging as during sprinting. Other activities that necessitate a sports bra include power walking, aerobics, body attack and - perhaps obviously - trampolining.

I’m told that even women with smaller chests will be affected by so-called “Cooper’s droop.” Andrews, managing director of Sports Injury Scotland, said, “Whether you measure a 34A or a 36E, the supporting ligaments are under just as much strain. That’s why sports bras are made to fit all sizes of bust.”

She suggests that a well-fitted bra is a girl’s best friend. In fact, an Australian study revealed that a good sports bra can reduce vertical bounce by half that of a bare chest.

So now that you’re thoroughly convinced of the merits of buying a sports bra (or replacing your age-old garment), where do you start?


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