Call them what you will – girls, twins, boobs, breasts – for many of us who engage in high-impact activity, we have another word for them: painful.
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.”
“Any reduction in strain would reduce the risk of damage to the breast tissues and ensure females are able to exercise in comfort.”
If you experience breast pain during high-impact activities – from volleyball and CrossFit to horseback riding and tennis – you’re not alone; even the most experienced of athletes can suffer.
A study of 1,400 female marathon runners, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that one in three women suffered breast pain while running. While some described the pain as “discomforting,” others said the pain was “horrible” or “excruciating.” Many resorted to medication to help relieve the pain.
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.
"Compared to the range of everyday bras on the market, which come in a variety of designs of different shapes, structures, etc., that will allow women to select a bra that is most appropriate for their individual breast size and shape, there is less choice in sports bras. 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."
"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.
Lynne Koziey is the Founder and CEO of BounceLab Ltd., the company behind the Būband.