Sports bra

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Two women wearing sports bras exercise and walk their dogs on Cayucos State Beach, Cayucos, California Two-women-exercising-cayucos-beach.jpg
Two women wearing sports bras exercise and walk their dogs on Cayucos State Beach, Cayucos, California

A sports bra is a bra that provides support to female breasts during physical exercise. Sturdier than typical bras, they minimize breast movement, alleviate discomfort, and reduce potential damage to chest ligaments. Many women wear sports bras to reduce pain, and physical discomfort caused by breast movement during exercise. Some sports bras are designed to be worn as outerwear during exercise such as jogging.

Bra womans undergarment

A bra, short for brassiere, is a form-fitting undergarment designed to support or cover the wearer's breasts. Bras are designed for a variety of purposes, including enhancing a woman's breast size, creating cleavage, or for other aesthetic, fashion or more practical considerations. Swimsuits, camisoles, and backless dresses may have built-in breast support. Nursing bras are designed to facilitate breast-feeding. Some women have a medical and surgical need for brassieres, but most women wear them for fashion or cultural reasons. There is no evidence that bras actually prevent breasts from sagging.

Breast region of the torso of a primate containing the mammary gland

The breast is one of two prominences located on the upper ventral region of the torso of primates. In females, it serves as the mammary gland, which produces and secretes milk to feed infants. Both females and males develop breasts from the same embryological tissues. At puberty, estrogens, in conjunction with growth hormone, cause breast development in female humans and to a much lesser extent in other primates. Breast development in other primate females generally only occurs with pregnancy.

A ligament is the fibrous connective tissue that connects bones to other bones. It is also known as articular ligament, articular larua, fibrous ligament, or true ligament. Other ligaments in the body include the:

Contents

History

The first commercially available sports bra was the "Free Swing Tennis Bra" introduced by Glamorise Foundations, Inc. in 1975. The first general exercise bra, initially called a "jockbra", was invented in 1977 by Lisa Lindahl and theater costume designer Polly Smith with the help of Smith's assistant, Hinda Schreiber. Lindahl's sister, Victoria Woodrow, complained about her bad experience exercising in ordinary bras, having experienced runaway straps, chafing and sore breasts. During the course of Lindahl and Smith's exploration for a better alternative, Lindahl's husband suggested that what they needed was a jockstrap for women's breasts. [1] In the costume shop of Royall Tyler Theatre at the University of Vermont, Lindahl and Smith actually sewed two jockstraps together and nicknamed it a "jockbra". It was later renamed a "jogbra". [2] One of their original Jogbras is bronzed and on display near the costume shop of the theatre. Two others are housed by the Smithsonian and another by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. [3]

Lisa Lindahl

Lisa Lindahl is an American writer, artist, activist, and inventor. Lindahl is credited as one of the inventors of the first women's general exercise bra, known as the jocksbra, along with theater costume designer Polly Smith, and Smimth's assistant, Hinda Schreiber. Lindahl has been acknowledged for her many contributions to the Epilepsy Foundation, including teaching others about the cause, and raising money and awareness. She was born in Burlington, Vermont in 1948, and grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. She attended the University of Vermont for her undergraduate and received her bachelor's degree in education in 1977, as well as also picking up secretarial classes at Katharine Gibbs School. Later in life Lindahl finished her master's degree in culture and spirituality from Holy Names University in California in 2007. She currently resides in North Carolina.

Hinda Miller is a former Democratic member of the Vermont State Senate, representing the Chittenden senate district. Miller is also known for her part in the invention of the sports bra.

A jockstrap is an undergarment for supporting the male genitalia during cycling, contact sports or other vigorous physical activity. A jockstrap consists of a waistband with a support pouch for the genitalia and two elastic straps affixed to the base of the pouch and to the left and right sides of the waistband at the hip. The pouch, in some varieties, may be fitted with a pocket to hold an abdominal guard to protect the testicles and the penis from injury.

In 1990 Playtex purchased Jogbra from Lindahl and her partners. This was followed by research by Christine Haycock, associate professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She measured breast movement of women running on treadmills. Sought out by bra manufacturers for her expertise, she advocated wide bottom bands for extra support and firm straps that minimized breasts bounce. Renelle Braaten, a Montana hairdresser, struggled to contain her double-Ds while playing racquetball and volleyball. Unable to interest mainstream bra manufacturers, she collaborated with freelance apparel designer Heidi Fisk, and founded Enell Incorporated. After considerable lobbying, she persuaded Oprah Winfrey in 2001 to try her bra. This led to very positive reviews in O: The Oprah Magazine , a 2001 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show , and a huge surge in orders. [2]

Playtex

Playtex is an American brand name for undergarments, baby products, gloves, feminine products and sunscreen. The brand began in 1947, when International Latex Corporation (ILC) created a division named Playtex to produce and sell latex products. Playtex was the first to advertise undergarments on national television in 1955 and the first to show a woman wearing only a bra from the waist-up in a commercial in 1977.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) was a state-run health sciences institution of New Jersey, United States.

Oprah Winfrey American businesswoman, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist

Oprah Winfrey is an American media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011 in Chicago. Dubbed the "Queen of All Media", she was the richest African American of the 20th century and North America's first black multi-billionaire, and has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. She has also been sometimes ranked as the most influential woman in the world.

Design challenges

Sports bras can either encapsulate or compress breasts. Bras that encapsulate breasts have molded cups, while compression-type bras restrict movement by flattening the breasts. Encapsulation-type bras generally are more effective at reducing discomfort, but some women prefer compression designs.

The most common sports bra is basically designed like a tank top with the bottom half cut off. Other designs use gel and water pads, silver fibres, and air bags. A stitchless bra was made by Wacoal, was molded, compressed, and shaped. A compressed bra is designed to push the breasts against the chest to reduce movement and bounce. Other bras are knitted in circular patterns, giving varying stretch and support. [4] A common design uses a stretchable, absorbent fabric such as Lycra designed to reduce irritation by drawing perspiration away from the skin.

Sleeveless shirt t-shirt without sleeves, sometimes cut back far at the shoulders, used both as summer clothing as well as althelic gear

A sleeveless shirt is a shirt manufactured without sleeves, or whose sleeves have been cut off. Sleeveless shirts are worn by people of any gender, depending on the style. They are used as undershirts, or worn by athletes in sports such as track and field and triathlon.

Wacoal company

Wacoal is a manufacturer of women's lingerie and underwear, founded in 1949 in Japan by Koichi Tsukamoto. The company has divisions in North America and Europe, and manufactures the brands Wacoal, b.tempt'd, Elomi, Eveden, Fantasie, Freya, and Goddess.

Perspiration substance secreted by sweat gland

Perspiration, also known as sweating, is the production of fluids secreted by the sweat glands in the skin of mammals.

Sports bras are also worn by women after certain surgical procedures. In those situations, a front-closing sports bra with a compression, seamless cup is recommended for healing and comfort. Certain fabrics such as Lycra have been found to help reduce swelling and help "even-out" a bustline that has been altered by a surgical procedure.

Sports bras are also manufactured for men with large breasts to enable them to take part more comfortably in physical activity. Some descriptions used euphemistically to describe bras for men are chest binders, compression vests or shimmels. [5]

Another problem arises from the shoulder straps of standard bras. Standard well-fitting bras are constructed in the form of a "square frame", with all dimensions adjusted for each woman in a normal standing position, with arms to the sides. When a woman performs an activity which requires her to lift her arms above the shoulders, the frame is strained because it is anchored by the chest band, putting direct pressure on the shoulder trapezius muscles. This may result in neck and shoulder pain, numbness and tingling in the arm and headaches. [6] [7] To avoid such problems the bra's shoulder straps are usually crossed at the back, or the bra is worn halter-style.

Halterneck

Halterneck is a style of women's clothing strap that runs from the front of the garment around the back of the neck, and leaves most of the back uncovered. The name comes from livestock halters.

Levels of control

Different physical activities require different levels of breast control. Yoga, walking and gardening require only "light" control; bicycling, power walking and hiking require "moderate" control; tennis, soccer and jogging requires "firm" control; and running, intense workouts, boxing and horseback riding requires "maximum" control.

Some female athletes are concerned that a sports bra may interfere with breathing, but even though increased pressure on the rib cage has been demonstrated, no significant effect on breathing can be shown. [8]

Exercise discomfort

Back-view and front view of sports bras worn by U.S. beach volleyball players Brooke Sweat and Jennifer Fopma at Hermosa Beach 2012 (2) (cropped).jpg
Back-view and front view of sports bras worn by U.S. beach volleyball players

About 50 percent of women report some pain or discomfort in their breasts during exercise. This varies considerably in intensity and may depend on what they are wearing. In an Australian study 3 women (17–21, cup sizes B and C) were photographed exercising bare breasted, again wearing two different bra models, and a fourth time wearing a specific sports bra. As expected, breast motion was reduced by bras, and the sports bra was the most effective. The women reported less discomfort with bras and especially with the sports bra. However, not all sports bras are created equally and a woman should be properly fitted. [9] [10]

During 2007, scientist Doctor Joanna Scurr of the University of Portsmouth conducted a motion study of seventy women while running. They represented the widest range of breast sizes ever studied, from A up to JJ. Glamour model Jordan, whose bra cup size is F, is six cup sizes smaller than Scurr’s biggest breasted subject. [11] Scurr found that breasts move in three planes of motion during exercise - vertically, horizontally, and laterally, in an overall figure-8 motion. Unrestrained movement of large breasts may contribute to sagging over time. [12] Motion studies have revealed that when a woman runs, more than 50% of the breast's total movement is vertical, 22% side-to-side, and 27% in-and-out. [13] The 2007 study found that encapsulation-type sports bras, in which each cup is separately molded, are more effective than compression-type bras, which press the breasts close to the body, at reducing total breast motion during exercise. Encapsulation bras reduce motion in two of the three planes, while compression bras reduce motion in only one plane. [11] Previously, it was commonly believed that a woman with small to medium-size breasts benefited most from a compression-type sports bra, and women with larger breasts need an encapsulation-type sports bra. [13]

The work of Scurr has criticised this belief and has shown that this is not the case.

In 2010 Scurr, White and Hedger conducted a study on the effect of breast support on the movement of the breast during the running gait cycle. The aim of this study was to investigate the multi-directional breast displacement, velocity and acceleration with and without breast support during running and also to establish the correlation with breast comfort. 15 D cup participants were used and all regularly participated in exercise. Using treadmill running in three different bra conditions, (No bra, T-shirt bra and sports bra) they concluded that breast displacement and velocity were reduced as breast support increased and that no particular direction of breast movement showed a stronger relationship to breast pain. Further to this they found that breast discomfort was most closely correlated to breast velocity. [14]

A later study in 2011 by Scurr et al. looked at supported and unsupported breast displacement with the aim to quantify multi-directional breast displacement across varying activity levels and in varying breast support conditions. The study used 21 D cup participants and activity levels varied from treadmill walking to maximal treadmill running. Maximum displacement was found in the right breast during the unsupported condition at 15 km/h, this showed an overall displacement of 15.8 cm. Results also showed that breast displacement was reduced as breast support increased by up to 59% in an encapsulation bra versus no bra. Results also showed that there was a significant increase in breast displacement as treadmill speed increased up to 10 km/h. The results of this study concluded that at higher speeds of activity, vertical breast displacement was highest, however side-to-side and forwards-backwards movement still accounted for half of the total breast displacement. Therefore, this means that sports bra design should primarily concentrate on vertical displacement factors but not totally ignore other planes of motion. The study also suggested that as no evidence was found that breast support requirements change as running speed increased. Designs should look into sports-specific sports bras that will account for the individual variances of breast displacement in different sports. [15]

Further research at the University of Portsmouth by Debbie Risius has shown that sports bras may also need to account for differences linked to age as well as size. Her research has shown that younger women's breasts experience more up and down motion whereas older women (45+) experience more side to side and in-out movement of the breasts. This suggests that standard sports bra may not be suitable for all ages of women. Therefore, designs must be adapted to create bras for older women that will support the specific movement shown by the breasts. This may encourage more older women to participate in sport and to feel more comfortable whilst doing so. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

Backpack bag carried on ones back

A backpack—also called knapsack, rucksack, rucksac, pack, sackpack, or backsack—is, in its simplest frameless form, a cloth sack carried on one's back and secured with two straps that go over the shoulders, but it can have an external frame, internal frame, and there are bodypacks.

Coopers ligaments connective tissue in the breast that help maintain structural integrity

Cooper's ligaments are connective tissue in the breast that help maintain structural integrity. They are named for Astley Cooper, who first described them in 1840. Their anatomy can be revealed using Transmission diffraction tomography.

Nursing bra

A nursing bra is a specialized brassiere that provides additional support to women who are lactating and permits comfortable breastfeeding without the need to remove the bra. This is accomplished by specially designed bra cups that include flaps which can be opened with one hand to expose the nipple. The flap is usually held closed with a simple clasp or hook.

Elliptical trainer exercise equipment

An elliptical trainer or cross-trainer is a stationary exercise machine used to simulate stair climbing, walking, or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints, hence decreasing the risk of impact injuries. For this reason, people with some injuries can use an elliptical to stay fit, as the low impact affects them little. Elliptical trainers offer a non-impact cardiovascular workout that can vary from light to high intensity based on the speed of the exercise and the resistance preference set by the user.

Cleavage (breasts) the partial exposure of the separation between a womans breasts

Cleavage is the exposed area between a woman’s breasts lying over the sternum, and refers only to what is visible with clothing that includes a low-cut neckline. In some cultures, display of cleavage is considered aesthetic or erotic, and may be associated with garments with low necklines that expose or highlight cleavage, such as ball gowns, evening gowns, lingerie, and swimwear. In these cultures women have, throughout history, sought to enhance their physical attractiveness and femininity, within the context of changing fashions and cultural-specific norms of modesty of the time and place. The methods practised in appropriate contexts have included the accentuation and partial display of breasts, including cleavage. In some cultures any display of cleavage may be culturally taboo illegal or otherwise socially disapproved.

Equine conformation

Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several universal "faults," a horse's conformation is usually judged by what its intended use may be. Thus "form to function" is one of the first set of traits considered in judging conformation. A horse with poor form for a Grand Prix show jumper could have excellent conformation for a World Champion cutting horse, or to be a champion draft horse. Every horse has good and bad points of its conformation and many horses excel even with conformation faults.

Breastplate (tack)

A breastplate is a piece of riding equipment used on horses. Its purpose is to keep the saddle or harness from sliding back.

Ptosis (breasts) drooping or sagging female breasts

Ptosis or sagging of the female breast is a natural consequence of aging. The rate at which a woman's breasts drop and the degree of ptosis depends on many factors. The key factors influencing breast ptosis over a woman's lifetime are cigarette smoking, her number of pregnancies, gravity, higher body mass index, larger bra cup size, and significant weight gain and loss. Post-menopausal women or people with collagen deficiencies may experience increased ptosis due to a loss of skin elasticity. Many women and medical professionals mistakenly believe that breastfeeding increases sagging. It is also commonly believed that the breast itself offers insufficient support and that wearing a bra prevents sagging, which has not been found to be true.

History of bras

The history of bras is inextricably intertwined with the social history of the status of women, including the evolution of fashion and changing views of the female body.

Male bra – also known as a compression bra, compression vest, or gynecomastia vest – refers to brassieres that are worn by men. Men sometimes develop breasts and the estimates of those with the condition are presented as a range "because the definition of gynecomastia varies and the method of surveying varies." Although there are options for treating gynecomastia, some elect surgery to reduce their breasts or wear a male bra. Male bras typically flatten rather than lift.

Bra size

The bra size is the measure which indicates the size characteristics of a bra. Bra sizes are usually expressed as scales, with a number of systems being in use around the world. The scales take into account the band length and the cup size. From the wearer's point of view, the main measures that are taken into account, in determining the best bra fit for the wearer, are the measures of the wearer around the torso below the breasts and over the breasts, which defines the band length. For convenience, because of the impracticality of measuring a woman's breast size, the volume of the bra cup is based on the difference between these two measures.

Breast cyst Human disease

A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac within the breast. One breast can have one or more breast cysts. They are often described as round or oval lumps with distinct edges. In texture, a breast cyst usually feels like a soft grape or a water-filled balloon, but sometimes a breast cyst feels firm.

Compression garment

Compression garments are pieces of clothing that fit tightly around the skin. In medical contexts, compression garments provide support for people who have to stand for long periods or have poor circulation. These come in varying degrees of compression, and higher degree compression sleeves, such as sleeves that provide compression of 20–30 mmHg or higher, typically require a doctor's prescription. Compression garments worn on the legs can help prevent deep vein thrombosis and reduce swelling, especially while traveling.

Underwire bra brassiere with curved wire inserts to support and define the breasts

An underwire bra is a brassiere that utilizes a thin, semi-circular strip of rigid material fitted inside the brassiere fabric. The wire may be made of metal, plastic, or resin. It is sewn into the bra fabric and under each cup, from the center gore to under the wearer's armpit. The wire helps to lift, separate, shape, and support a woman's breasts. Many different brassiere designs incorporate an underwire, including shelf bras, demi bras, nursing bras, and bras built into other articles of clothing, such as tank tops, dresses and swimsuits.

Maternal physiological changes in pregnancy

Maternal physiological changes in pregnancy are the adaptations during pregnancy that a woman’s body undergoes to accommodate the growing embryo or fetus. These physiologic changes are entirely normal, and include behavioral (brain), cardiovascular, hematologic (blood), metabolic, renal (kidney), posture, and respiratory (breathing) changes. Increases in blood sugar, breathing, and cardiac output are all expected changes that allow a pregnant woman’s body to facilitate the proper growth and development of the embryo or fetus during the pregnancy. The pregnant woman and the placenta also produce many other hormones that have a broad range of effects during the pregnancy.

Bralessness

In Western society, there is an increasing trend towards bralessness among a number of women, especially millennials, who have expressed opposition to and are giving up wearing bras. Being seen in public while not wearing a bra is becoming more acceptable, encouraging more women to go without. In 2016, Allure magazine fashion director Rachael Wang wrote, "Going braless is as old as feminism but it seems to be bubbling to the surface more recently as a direct response to Third Wave moments like #freethenipple hashtag campaign, increased trans-visibility like Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover ... and Lena Dunham’s show Girls ." Going braless, which for many years was considered a political statement, has in recent years become fashionable.

References

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