The other day I was at a gym doing a presentation for PurePosture, and I spent some time watching people work out. Along the wall was a bank of treadmills, each one occupied. Some people were walking, most wogging (walk/jog combo) and some were outright running as if they were being chased by pit bulls. Most notable were two youngish women trotting along wearing what had to be Victoria Secret demi bras (ok guys you know what I'm talking about). Think Bo Derek running on the beach in "10"...I'm dating myself here. Both women had large breasts and the bouncing going on did as was possibly intended. The guys at the nearby free weight area didn't miss any of the action. They stole furtive glances at the two women, one was running on the right and the other cruising along on the last treadmill to the left. It was pretty funny watching the guys, their heads swiveling back and forth like they were watching Roger Federer at the Australian open. I'm not sure either woman was aware of all the attention they were receiving, but one thing I thought was: This can not possibly be good for either their breast tissue or upper backs.
Putting aside the social issues, women athletes face the real problem of taming large breasts while trying to be comfortable and flexible enough to accomplish their goal. My good friend, a very accomplished equestrian, had such a problem. She sported double Ds and had a heck of a time finding bras that held her chest tight, while still allowing her to breathe! Bouncing boobs at a horse show is frowned on by the judges and also puts a serious strain on the upper back and shoulders. She eventually found that wearing two bras, the first one positioning the breasts and the second one, the "over" bra complete with a zip-up-the-front, ensured absolutely nothing moved. No more bounce. The problem was the summer heat and all that gear would overheat her to a point where, when she finished the ride, her face was almost purple, and she was oozing perspiration. "I'm a mess, but the trip went well"...always an optimistic soul!
What's so wrong with bouncing boobs?
Let's start with an anatomy lesson. Breasts are composed mostly of fat but have a significant amount of glandular tissue, all being held together by fibrous tissue called Cooper's Ligaments. The breasts are anchored to the chest wall, on top of the pectoralis (the pecs) muscle. Breasts also have millions upon millions of highly sensitive nerve endings, a major female erogenous zone. Breasts are very vulnerable to abrupt and aggressive motion which can cause the tissue to tear and create pain, in some cases, big pain. Vanity is a super motivator so torn tissue results in less than "perky" breasts and not-so-nice stretch marks.
Structurally speaking, unfettered breasts cause women to bring their arms close to their sides, limiting motion and causing a rounding to the upper back. Many large breasted women complain of a dull, deep and mostly constant pain in their mid-back where the bra hooks in the back. Because of this structural imbalance, the neck is often extended in front of the body instead of directly over the body causing neck strain and can cause headaches. It's all inner connected.
Thin bra straps can cause indentations in the shoulders magnified when the breasts are bouncing up and down. Over the course of years, these indentations can become permanent and leave the shoulders vulnerable to tears and shoulder dysfunction.
What's a girl to do?
If you are an athlete, you need support! Running in a flimsy bra is like running in your flip flops. You need to stop the bounce and decrease stress on the breasts. Thankfully today we have many great sports bras to choose from. I am not a big fan of "racer back" type because they put too much pressure on the trapezius (the traps) and can force your head in extension. Instead, I prefer a wide strap "traditional" type styling with a wide back (three or more hooks) and one that covers and cups the entire breast.
There is wonderfully breathable material that wicks off moisture and is available with or without an underwire. The downside? Pricey and not as pretty as the beautiful bras sold at La Perla.
By all means, wear those sexy bras but keep the girls under control when running, jumping and during sports!
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