With any exercise, there certain precautions we need take to avoid getting injured — and that can start with what we wear to work out. But if you’re a women who likes to run, the quality of your sports bra may be as important as your running shoes when it comes to staying injury-free.
Dr. Jenny White is a part of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, which has looked at how high-impact exercise affects women’s breasts. She spoke with the web series #OWNSHOW about her research findings.
“We asked lots of female volunteers to come into our lab and we filmed them… running in different sports bras, and without bras as well, to understand what happens to the breasts whilst we run,” White explains in the above video.
Many people assume that the movement is a predictable up-and-down motion, but the research says there’s much more going on.
“We found that actually only 50 percent of the movement is actually up and down,” she says. “Actually we get quite a lot of side-to-side movement, and movement forwards and backwards as well.”
What happens with all of this movement, besides making for an uncomfortable or even painful run, is that it can cause breasts to sag prematurely.
“The breast is very delicate as a tissue, and it doesn’t have any muscles to support it,” White says. “So, if we keep stretching that tissue over time, we do think that it could lead to premature sagging of the breasts.”
The best way to help prevent this is to make sure you’re wearing a supportive sports bra when you run. Some women also do pectoral exercises to firm up the muscle underneath the breast, and while White warns that this isn’t likely to reverse sagging, she believes that it does have its value.
“If you can train your pec muscles, then you’ll generally feel fitter, and that might help to reduce any breast pain anyway,” she says.
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