The fastening of breasts to our torsos is less solid than we assume; they can move 15cm during a run. Here’s how to look after your precious cargo when you’re bouncing around.
A curse on crop tops. They may look like bras, but they aren’t. And if they didn’t look like bras – and if women didn’t wear them as if they were bras – I wouldn’t be forced to say out loud every time I see a woman running: “For God’s sake, get a better sports bra.”
Breasts are wonderful parts of our bodies, but they move, bounce and hurt. And, as high-intensity interval training is becoming ever-more popular, they are moving, bouncing and hurting even more. “Runner’s boob” is increasingly being reported to GPs.
Running is actually a series of jumps, and so it affects the female body the same way that jumping does: in some women, it makes the bladder leak. And running makes breasts move in surprising ways: up and down, but also sideways. They move more than you do: run a marathon and your breasts will have run an ultra. Researchers at Portsmouth University’s Research Group in Breast Health (RGBH) have calculated that the movement of the breasts during exercise ranges from 4cm during a walk to 15cm during a run.
The breasts have no muscles. They consist of fatty tissue attached to the torso by ligaments. They seem solid, but their fastening is less solid than we assume. For all shapes and sizes of breasts – even A-cups – not being encased by a good sports bra while running may lead to pain. In a survey of 1,397 entrants to the 2012 London marathon, a third had experienced breast pain during training.
Why does this matter? Because anything that puts women and girls off sport (such as the nearly all-male sports pages of newspapers, including this one) is a bad thing. The RGBH found that 46% of schoolgirls were deterred from doing sport because they were worried about their breasts, but only 10% of schoolgirls regularly wear a sports bra.
Good sports bras can be found cheaply, though you may have trouble with larger breasts. Always look for “high-impact” and do not be fooled by crop tops. Even if you have to pay more than $20, a well-fitted, high-impact sports bra is always a bargain, for you, your sports and the precious cargo of fatty tissue attached to your chest.