Breast cancer

Updated 09 November 2017

Beat the bounce

If you've ever ventured into a sports bra department then you know that selecting the proper one can be a daunting task.

Don't let that scare you away, because wearing a sports bra while exercising should be an indispensable part of your workout.

"It's very important to wear a sports bra while engaging in any activity that causes repetitive vertical motion in the breasts, in order to avoid injury," she explains. Of course, she adds, it's not needed for non-jarring activities like weight lifting.

Stillman emphasizes that even women with smaller cup sizes should never work out without a sports bra in order to avoid soreness, chafing, neck and upper back pain and, ultimately, sagging of the breasts.

"Our breasts are supported by Cooper's ligaments, which are very delicate tissues that act as a natural bra to hold up the glandular tissues of the breast." Vertical movement stretches the Cooper's ligaments, and once they're stretched they never return to their original position.

Take into consideration the fact that exercising may cause as much as 80 pounds of impact on the breasts, and you can see why they require extra support.

The sports bra came along in the 1970s when two female marathoners set out to find a solution to the breast problems they experienced while running. They sewed the first sports bra from - of all things - two jock straps.

Their design was so effective that Champion agreed to produce it, and the Jogbra was born. Luckily, sports bras have come a long way. Today they're available in two main styles: compression and encapsulation.

The compression style is generally a one-piece garment that looks like a tank top and works by basically compressing the breasts against the chest. It offers less restriction of vertical movement, which means it's better for women with A or B cup sizes, or for lower impact activity.

Encapsulation bras have separate cups that support the breasts individually from underneath. This style provides greater support and is generally better for cup sizes C and up or for higher impact exercise.

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Ask the Expert

Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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