We’re often told that a good sports bra is essential to protect your breasts as you exercise – but there are more benefits of a sports bra than that. Did you know that a good sports bra might help you run faster, exercise for longer and lower your risk of injury?
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The Main Sports Bra Benefit You (Probably) Do Know
The number one benefit of a good sports bra is that it supports the breasts during exercise.
As you work out the breasts move a lot.
In fact, with every step you run the breasts move in a figure of eight motion and, if you’re larger busted they could sway as much as 21cm away from their normal position.
Weirdly, left breasts move more than right ones (don’t ask me why) which is why encapsulated sports bras where each breast is contained in its own cup give more support than compression types which hold the breasts in place by squashing them.
This movement potentially leads to stretching of the Cooper’s Ligament that supports the breasts (leading to perkiness being a thing of the past).
It also increases the risk of breast pain, especially if you’re pre-menstrual, pregnant or post-menopausal when the breasts can become more tender.
Wearing a sports bra though has been shown to reduce the movement of the breasts by as much as 56 per cent.
That’s the number one benefit of wearing a sports bra – and probably NOT news to you, but what you might not realise is that stopping the movement of the breasts then has a number of knock-on effects that mean protecting the shape and health of your breasts isn’t the only sports bra benefit out there.
5 Less Well Known Reasons to Wear a Sport Bra
It Lowers Your Risk of Injury
That’s the finding of research from the UK’s University of Portsmouth.
The team there, who are basically the queens of all things to do with boobs and exercise, found that if runners breasts aren’t supported, their body weight sways to the side as their breasts move throughout the run.
Researcher Jenny White found this interferes with the way you stride causing you to land more heavily than normal.
The result is a big fat impact shock through your knees and back with every step which can increase risk of injury and pain. Support your breasts and this is less likely to happen.
You Might Run Faster
How effectively you swing your arms is one of the key things that determines running speed and when experts at Breast Research Australia at the University of Wollongong measured how people ran they found that if the breasts move too much women tend to reduce their arm swing to compensate which naturally slows you down.
Another study at the University of Portsmouth found that women also shorten their stride by as much as four centimetres – that means you need to take more steps to cover the same distance.
In fact, the shorter stride added about a mile to the distance run in the average marathon – depending how fast you run, swapping from a bad to a good sports bra could theoretically knock a good 10 minutes off your marathon time.
Support your breasts with a good sports bra and you therefore might run faster
You Won’t Get as Tired
Obviously, taking more steps is going to lead to a greater amount of fatigue, but on top of that, if you’re wearing a good sports bra you reduce the amount of effort from your pectoral muscle under the chest by 55 per cent. This can help conserve energy.
Another benefit of a sports bra is that good support to the breast may also stop you slouching forward which also causes you to use more energy while you run than standing with a more upright form.
It Might Make You More Likely to Workout
All of the above sports bra benefits are going to boost your performance which might make you keener to workout – but what if you’re not quite at the stage of entering races or worrying about times.
Well, 17 per cent of women say the movement of their boobs during exercise is one of the reasons why they don’t work out – either because of discomfort or because it draws attention to them that they don’t really want.
In another study, 25 per cent of women said they’d cut a workout short because of breast pain.
A good sports bra that holds everything in place reduces movement and pain potentially making it more likely you’ll do your workout – or stick at it for longer.
It Makes Horses Happy
Forty percent of female riders experience breast pain while riding horses – yet only 19 per cent of large breasted riders, and 14 per cent of smaller breasted women actually wear a specialist sports bra when riding.
Interestingly, not only will you suffer fewer aches by making the swap, your horse will be happier.
If a rider’s posture is tense (which it can be if you’re trying to avoid breast bounce) the horse picks up on this and this increases their heart rate and stress level say researchers at The University of Portsmouth.
Some Great Sports Bras to Try
Of all the sports bras I’ve tried three stand out as particularly impressive. I really like the Panache Spots Bras as they go on easily and keep everything firmly in place.
As for horse riding, the first two on my list above score highly when riders recommend bras for horseriding, but you might also want to look at a specialist equestrian sports bra as these also help work with the body to ensure correct posture which is important when riding. Have a look at the Kerrits EQ Sports Bra