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Bouncing Back – The Evolution of the Sports Bra

As you know, I’m a big lover of the sports bra and all things breast support! It dawned on me though, that I didn’t really know about where the sports bra came from. As you can imagine, I went down a sports bra rabbit hole! Like me, I don’t think you will be surprised to read that support for women’s boobs during exercise took 100 years longer to develop than the jock strap for men! (which was developed in 1874).

Boobs + Jogging = Walking

Flashback to 1977, the golden era of disco, women’s liberation, questionable fashion choices and the introduction of the jogging craze. Lisa Lindahl and Polly Smith, both joggers, along with their crafty mate Hinda Miller, noticed a problem that was really pissing them and many other women off—the dreaded boob bounce during exercise. They noticed that most women really getting into jogging had relatively small boobs. Not because they had to be small to be a jogger. But because big boobs and jogging didn’t exactly mix well. Even the euphoria of a runner’s high couldn’t drown out the discomfort of D-cups bouncing all over the place mid run. Lisa and Polly weren’t having any of it. Giving up jogging was not an option and they wanted to be able to make it accessible for more women. So they decided to fight back against gravity-induced pain and discomfort.

F*** You Gravity

Armed with two jock straps and a sewing machine, Linda set out to create a solution to the painful bouncing every time she went for a jog. The result? The first sports bra, aptly named the “Jogbra.” was born.  Smith had created bra straps by sewing two jock straps together that crossed in the back (to keep them from sliding down) and a sturdy elastic band beneath the breasts for support. Linda went out for a jog wearing the Jogbra, with Hinda running backward in front of her. Her job was to keep an eye out for any unwanted bounce. And just like that…..less bounce, less pain! This homemade jockstrap creation marked the dawn of a new era, freeing women from the constraints of traditional uncomfortable bras during jogging and other sports. It wasn’t just a sports bra they had developed; it was a rebellion against boob-induced discomfort, and a huge f*** you to gravity.

Jogbra Evolution

Fast forward to the ’80s, and aerobics were all the rage. Bouncing grapevines demanded sports bras that not only did the job but looked good too. Cue fashionable designs popping up, sporting vibrant colours and bold patterns. The ’90s brought even more advancements, with sports bras incorporating features like encapsulation and compression for even better support. Brands even started investing in research and development (how thoughtful of them), offering lines tailored to different body types, breast sizes, impact levels, and activities.

In recent years, sports bras have really stepped up their game with high-tech performance features and sustainable materials. We even have research institutes such as Portsmouth University, dedicating research to sports bras and breast health. The sports bra has now become a crucial piece of fitness apparel for women.   A well-designed sports bra can actually reduce breast movement by up to 78%, significantly minimising the risk of breast pain and discomfort (Research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health).

So, there you have it – the history of the sports bra, born from the inventive fusion of jock straps in 1977. From its humble beginnings, the sports bra has become an indispensable part of every woman’s athletic wardrobe. As we celebrate the evolution of this iconic garment, let’s also acknowledge the trailblazing women who, armed with jock straps and sewing machines, changed the game for women in sports forever.

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