I think we can all remember that iconic red swimsuit scene, with Pamela Anderson sprinting down the beach with the slow mo ‘boob bounce’ that we all wanted to recreate? (well…maybe it was just me?).
But I remember watching Baywatch and thinking she looked amazing, but more importantly , thinking that is how all boobs were supposed to look.
I know now, it should actually look nothing like Pamela Anderson’s at all – and I don’t mean because they were implants. I mean because her boobs were not supported one little bit while she sprinted down that beach!
The University of Portsmouth have actually found that if breasts are not properly supported during running, they “experience the same G force as an F1 driver and could undergo potentially damaging skin stretch”. WTAF!
Some studies have even recorded up to 21cm of vertical displacement during running. That’s nearly the length of your elbow to wrist!!
Seriously, with 5 seasons of Baywatch running up and down that beach, there must have been some serious skin stretching going on with Pam’s poor boobs!
Lacking in support
Joking aside though, Pamela Anderson isn’t the only one to be lacking breast support. It’s reported that approximately 90% of women regularly wear the wrong size/fit bra and not just during sporting activities. It is crazy….would we run a marathon in shoes three sizes too small? Well, I mean I wouldn’t run one in the right size shoes, but you get the gist!?
So let’s do a little quiz and see how we fare in the “right bra” category – Hands up if…..
- Your sports bra regularly rides up your back
- Your straps have made grooves deeper than the grand canyon in your shoulders
- You have bra spillage / quad boobs
- Your bra straps fall off your shoulders
- You have gaps/creases in the bra cup
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, then you are in the 90% club of women wearing the wrong size bra . Seriously, its not a club we want to be staying in.
Why is it such a problem?
Many experts have already linked badly fitting bras with poor posture and spinal problems, as well as breathing problems, abrasions and breast pain. Also, a bra that doesn’t give us the right support can also lead to breast skin damage such as stretch marks because we are stretching the skin beyond its recovery point.
And before you start telling yourself, I’ve only got small boobs so it doesn’t really apply to me – let me tell you it does! Breast support is important regardless of the size or shape of your breasts, or even your sporting activity level. None of us can escape it!
Yet despite this fairly long list of health complications, pain and some serious stretching of the skin, millions of us continue to wear the wrong size bra.
For me, one of the biggest areas of interest, is how our boobs are supported (or not) during exercise because when we move, our boobs move too – up and down and side to side!
Researchers at Portsmouth University’s Research Group in Breast Health (RGBH) have worked out that boobs move during exercise anywhere from 4cm during a walk to 15cm during a run. So if we think about it, if unsupported, our boobs are exercising while we are! Think of it like this – if we run a 5k unsupported, our boobs are probably doing 10k (in three directions)!!
This lack of breast support and the difficulty in finding a bra that fits correctly has also been linked to women avoiding exercises because its too painful, they are embarrassed about the excessive breast movement or they just don’t know where to find a good fitting bra.
Sports Bras (that support)
With the rise of social media and influencers, sports bras have become somewhat of a fashion accessory with all focus on them looking good on insta rather than providing any actual support to our boobs.
I mean take this for example! From an aesthetic perspective it looks great, but that isn’t even going to support her nipples, let alone her boobs once she starts moving!
One thing that really surprised me when I was training in Posture Fitting was that breasts are not support by anything but our skin!!! No, the pecs don’t provide support, no there aren’t any ligaments holding them up and even more surprising – your bra straps are not their to provide support either!!!
So if we are choosing our sports bra purely for aesthetic purposes, we are relying 100% on our skin to cling on to our boobs for dear life during our workouts!
The “Correct Fit”
It goes without saying that women’s health is massively overlooked/not given enough attention and the same goes for breast support and being fitted correctly for a bra.
At no point in my 40+ years have I ever been told about the importance of not only wearing a correctly fitted bra, but I didn’t even know until recently what “correctly fitted” even meant. Having not been particularly blessed in the boobs department, I was under the impression that I didn’t need to worry about breast support and so never really cared about the support (or lack of) that I was getting from my bras.
“Just Add 4 inches”
I’m of the old school generation that, following augmentation, I went to M&S, had a bra fitting , where for some random reason they just add on 4″ to your measurements to determine size. I bought the bras and have pretty much worn the same size since! I’ve probably increased the back size over the years due to weight gain, pregnancy etc but I’ve always just gone with “this seems to fit ok” and not thought any more it. Id spent thousands on these new boobs and then didn’t invest in supporting them at all!
Even with sports bras after my surgery, when I played rugby I didn’t really think about what was the best fit. I would always just go for the tightest fit to avoid as much movement as possible – sometimes I must admit I’ve even put two bras on just for good measure!
And God forbid if anyone ever suggested to me to wear underwire sports bras because we all know that one person, who knows someone, who knows someone else who wore an underwire when playing sport and it punctured her lung!
So what do we do?
Well, we are launching the PostureFitting service in October, which is a pioneering physiotherapy approach to posture management with bra fitting at its core . This service is offered across the UK so don’t worry if you are not in the NW – you can find a clinic near you.
It is not just about “bra fitting” – it is about reducing pain, improving posture, ensuring adequate support for your breasts to reduce skin sag and excessive displacement.
Posture Fitting is ideal for you if you are:
- Experiencing physical or life stage changes
- Looking to improve your mobility or sports performance
- Wanting to enhance your appearance and boost self-confidence
- Struggling with neck or back pain
- Avoiding exercise due to breast pain or lack of support
- Or you just need to find the right bra for you