Think you know everything there is to know about breast bounce? Think again! Misconceptions abound when it comes to bounce, so we thought we’d provide some solid science around why your breasts needs to be well supported – and how to put an end to the pain many women experience as a result of breast bounce.
1. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s good.
Scientists have long known there is a link between breast movement and breast pain, but now they’ve mapped out exactly how the breasts move, revealing precisely where they require the most support during exercise to prevent pain and damage to the Cooper’s ligaments.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that most sports bras don’t provide support in the right area.
Named after British surgeon Astley Cooper, who first described them in 1840, the Cooper’s ligaments are the connective tissue in the breasts that help maintain their structural integrity. With repetitive strain (such as during running) the thin, relatively weak strands of ligaments simply aren’t strong enough to properly support the breasts in the long term.
According to Dr. Joanna Scurr, who leads the UK’s University of Portsmouth Breast Health Research Group, tension on the ligaments can lead to irreparable stretching (sagging) over time. “Strain of these tissues may cause permanent damage to the supporting structures of the breast leading to breast sag, and has previously linked to breast pain. Any reduction in strain would reduce the risk of damage to the breast tissues and ensure females are able to exercise in comfort.”
Research Lead Dr. Nicola Brown told Runner's World Newswire that her study suggests current offerings don't meet runners' needs.
"Many sports bras do offer a range of cup sizes, [but] others have fairly generic sizes, and this may impact on the fit and support the bra offers, which may impact exercise-induced mastalgia," Brown says.
"Bra manufacturers need to do more research and work closely with scientists and women to design bras which allow women of all shapes and sizes to lead active and healthy lifestyles."
The answer? Researchers detail exactly where breast support is needed to prevent the pain: “Reducing strain across the mid and upper parts of the breast (precisely where the Būband is designed to be worn) will reduce the risk of damage to the internal structures of the breast.”
Adding the Būband on top of the bra you’re already wearing will target the key areas researchers say need the most support – and put an end to bounce for good.
2. Small breasts bounce – and hurt – too
It’s true that women with larger breasts bounce more than those with smaller ones, but that doesn’t mean that small-breasted women are bounce-free. And breast pain comes in all sizes.
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth in England studied 1,400 female marathon runners with 56 different bra sizes, from AA to HH cups and chest-band sizes from 28 to 40 inches.
It’s no surprise that more than half of the runners wearing an F cup or larger reported frequent breast pain, but around 25 percent of women who were an A cup or smaller said they also experienced breast pain, even when wearing a sports bra.
3. You think you’re not bouncing but you are
The other day, I met a woman who came across the Būband for the first time but said didn’t need one because she “doesn’t have that problem.”
Studies show that breasts move a LOT more than most women think and in ways they never imagined. In fact, they practically have a mind of their own during exercise, moving independently from the torso and in three different directions – up and down, in and out, and side to side.
4. Breast bounce can cause injury to your legs
Interestingly, researchers at the University of Portsmouth also found that breast bounce can inhibit peak performance and increase the risk of injury.
Proper breast support – more critically, breast support in the mid to upper parts of the breast – reduces the activity of the pectoral muscles by 55 percent, which researchers say may affect a woman’s muscular fatigue during running.
As unrelated as it sounds, it turns out your legs also need to work harder when your breasts aren’t sufficiently supported. Studies show that breast movement can significantly increase the forces exerted through the leg and onto the ground during running, which may lead to an increased risk of injury.
5. You're not doing yourself any favors looking perky during exercise
When exercising, many women choose bras that actually push their breasts up to make them appear perkier, but according to one doctor, that can have negative effects and cause sagging in the long run.
“When women wear a sports bra and decide to angle their breasts up when exercising, their lower breasts ligaments are in danger of being stretched," says plastic surgeon Dr. Harlow Hollis. “Because of gravity, our breasts are naturally angled down.”
Dr. Hollis says that it’s important to ensure breasts are held in place, straight against the muscle wall, eliminating any ligaments from being stretched during exercise. Hello Būband!