The term sports bra is probably a misnomer as most women associate it with someone who is highly athletic. However, a sports bra is as essential as a good pair of workout shoes. The breast need to be held firmly in place to minimize stretching of the Cooper’s ligaments. Cooper’s ligaments are fine, hair-like connective tissues that hold the breast up. Once stretched, those once perky breasts will NOT bounce back. Rather, they will sag forever.
Any woman who participates in even regular exercise should invest in a sports bra. During vigorous exercises, a breast can move more than 8 inches: up, down, side-to-side, in-and-out. Yet most women who exercise on a regular basis are not wearing sports bras despite the fact that a sports bra will reduce stress on the ligaments and help delay the onset of sagging breasts.
If you are thinking that your ordinary, everyday bra will do, you couldn’t be further from the truth. A new study by British researchers suggest that most bras won’t give women the support they need. In fact, researcher Joanna Scurr, PhD, of the University of Portsmouth, found that breasts move in three dimensions and current bra designs are inadequate to protect against damage to breast ligaments and breast pain.
So, if you are athletic or even exercise regularly, you should certainly invest in a sports bra in order to prevent the movement of your breast during periods of activity or exercise. According to the British researchers, the best form of support available at present is an encapsulation bra, which has separate moulded cups, rather than a compression bra which flattens the breasts to the chest wall.
In addition to encapsulation, good sports bras will feature a supportive band under the breast, more horizontal stretch than vertical stretch, covered hooks or snaps that won’t rub against the skin, seams that are small and do not run anywhere near the nipple, and a breathable or sweat-wicking fabric. Sports bras that do not offer these features should be avoided.
I like Champion sports bras, which are sized just like bras so you get the perfect fit. These bras come in a variety of types for every activity and every size. The Champion Powerback Underwire Sports Bra, in particular, meets the critieria established by Dr. Scurr of an encapsulation bra.
It is important to note that once a sports bra has broken down, it should be tossed out. As a general rule of thumb, you should replace your sports bra after 100 workouts or one year of consistent use, which ever comes first. However, don’t wait to replace your sports bra if you notice that the elastic is frayed, there are rips or tears in the fabric, the armholes or straps are stretched or you feel that it is not providing the same amount of support and stabilization as it did when it was first purchased. And if in doubt, err on the side of
caution and invest in a new sports bra.
The Cooper’s droop is irreversible. The solution to the problem is prevention rather than cure. Keeping this in mind be sure that before you attend your next exercise session, you purchase a well-fitting sports bra that will reduce the amount of breast movement as you work out or perform sports.