Biomechanics of Breast Health
Encouraging participation in regular physical activity is of paramount importance to lower obesity levels and positively affect cardiovascular fitness, injury prevention, cancer incidence and overall wellbeing. Given the benefits of exercise, it is concerning that many females refrain from physical activity due to the pain and/or embarrassment associated with excessive breast motion. Approximately 50% of females report suffering exercise-induced breast discomfort during exercises involving running and jumping, and this leads to many females reducing their physical activity participation. In addition, our research has highlighted that ‘bra discomfort’ was ranked as one of the highest perceived barriers to exercise in women living with a diagnosis of breast cancer. To minimise excessive breast motion and the associated breast discomfort, it is essential that women wear a well-fitted, supportive bra because breasts contain no supportive muscle or bone.
For a bra to be comfortable and provide adequate support, it must fit properly. Our research has found, however, that greater than 85% of women wear the wrong size bra! Correct bra fit is imperative to good health as ill-fitting bras and insufficient breast support have been reported to contribute to poor posture and musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, which limit participation in physical activity and can force women with large breasts to seek breast reduction surgery. As up to 85% of these symptoms can be alleviated by a well-fitted and supportive bra, our research aims to improve bra fit and bra design so that all women, irrespective of age, breast size, or disease status, are able to participate comfortably in physical activity and enjoy the health benefits associated with an active lifestyle.