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March 17, 2021 3 min read

Ask yourself the following questions:-

  • Do your breasts hurt when you are running?
  • Does your breast movement cause anxiety when you are running?
  • Does breast pain make you less likely to participate in running activities?
  • Do you alter you running style to try and avoid or prevent breast pain?
  • Do you worry that the bouncing of your breasts during running will cause your breasts to sag?
  • Does your bra give you adequate support and limit breast movement during running?

Women often don’t talk about this problem, however when medical researchers have asked the questions

In the general UK population, 44–72% of women have reported experiencing exercise-induced breast pain when they participate in sport and exercise (1), and during the 2012 London marathon 32% of the runners experienced breast pain (2)

Due to the weak intrinsic support in the breast, physical activity such as running causes significant independent breast movement, mostly in the vertical direction (3) especially in individuals with large breasts. During running, you're looking at about 15 centimetres of breast movement in the average woman, although up to 21 centimetres may occur in larger breasts, which is a substantial amount of movement

This breast movement can result in a number of negative consequences including breast pain (4), embarrassment (5), and altered running technique (6). Breast pain during running can often be severe enough to limit a woman’s participation in physical activity (7)

An additional problem of breast movement during running is that women risk damaging the fragile Cooper’s ligaments which help support the breast and which, once damaged, are irreparable. Strain of these tissues may lead to or accentuate undesirable breast sag so breast support during sporting activities is important

Joanna Scurr, Professor in Biomechanics, and Head of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmuth, UK, has made extensive investigations into the problem of breast movement in runners and the effectiveness of sports bras in limiting excessive breast movement

Professor Scurr advocates the use of a cup shaped bra that moulds to the shape of the breasts, elevates and then compresses them, thereby reducing vertical breast displacement and exercise- induced breast pain or discomfort.

Boob armour inserts, which are only 2mm thick, provide the moulding and support, and the sports bra provides the overlying compression, making Boob armour the optimal protective device for the female breast during running.

 

(1) Brown N, Burnett E, Scurr J. Is Breast Pain Greater in Active Females Compared to the General Population in the UK? Breast J. 2016 Mar Apr;22(2):194-201.

(2)Brown N, White J, Brasher A, Scurr J. The experience of breast pain (mastalgia) in female runners of the 2012 London Marathon and its effect on exercise behaviour. Br J Sports Med. 2014 Feb;48(4):320-5.

(3) Scurr J, White JL, Hedger W (2011) Supported and unsupported breast displacement in three dimensions across treadmill activity levels, Journal of Sports Sciences, 29:1, 55-61

(4) Wood, L. E., J. White, A. Milligan, B. Ayres, W. Hedger, and J. Scurr. Predictors of Three-Dimensional Breast Kinematics during Bare-Breasted Running. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol.44, No. 7, pp. 1351–1357, 2012.

(5) Burnett E, White J, Scurr J. The Influence of the Breast on Physical Activity Participation in Females. J Phys Act Health. 2015 Apr; 12(4):588-94.

(6) White J, Scurr J, Mills C Breast support implications for female recreational athletes during steady state running. Department of Sport & Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth 2012

(7) Brisbine BR, Steele JR, Phillips EJ and McGhee DE. Breast pain affects the performance of elite female athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2020;38(5):1-6.