And while many women recognise they have a problem, most choose not to consult professional bra-fitters – for a variety of reasons, including modesty and the lack of availability of trained fitters where they purchase their bras.
But now there is a solution to the problem.
Sports Medicine Australia and the Breast Research Australia (BRA) team in the University of Wollongong’s Biomechanics Research Laboratory, which has pioneered sports bra research in Australia, have combined to produce a free do-it-yourself guide to bra selection for sport and exercise.
Called simply EXERCISE AND BREAST SUPPORT, the brochure is a guide to understanding breast support during physical activity and how to determine whether your bra is fitted correctly.
The brochure provides easy to follow explanations on why correct bra fit and support is important for women of all ages when they play sport or exercise, as well as information about the potential for ill-fitting bras to contribute to neck, back and arm pain, especially in women with large breasts.
It contains a practical table that helps women make the right choice of bra based on age, bra cup size and the type of physical activity being undertaken. It contains advice on the type of bands, straps, cup, underwire and material, three easy steps to correct bra fit and a bra fit checklist.
BRA team researcher Dr Deirdre McGhee said the information in the brochure was prepared from evidence-based research, and would be a valuable guide for women of all ages.
“One of our recent studies found that 88 percent of female adolescents wore a bra during sport that didn’t fit properly, while 85 percent failed a simple knowledge test on bras and bra fit,” Dr McGhee said. “At the same time the vast majority of women, 75 percent in the younger age group and 67 percent among older women, do not choose to use the bra-fitting services that some bra retailers provide.
“So clearly there is a problem, and we are delighted that Sports Medicine Australia has partnered with us to produce this brochure, which we feel will be a great help to women who want to be active – whether it is very physical activities like playing hockey, netball, football, jogging or gym workouts, or more passive activities like walking.”
BRA Team Leader Professor Julie Steele said the women would be able to use the brochure “knowing we’re not trying to sell any particular brand of bra, so they can choose whatever they want without feeling under any pressure”.
“We’re greatly indebted to Sports Medicine Australia for funding this brochure, which is the first of its kind in Australia,” she said.
Sports Medicine Australia said it was delighted to have partnered with the University of Wollongong in the development of the Exercise and Breast Support fact sheet to promote the importance of exercise for women.
“The benefits of exercise have no doubt been extensively documented. By encouraging and empowering women with the information relevant to ensure correct bra fit, the fact sheet seeks to break down one of the barriers confronting women when exercising,” said Sports Medicine Australia’s spokesperson Amanda Boshier.
“By gaining correct breast support and correct bra fit while exercising, women can exercise more freely, develop optimal health and set a path to a healthy future, avoiding many health problems commonly linked to inactivity,” she said.
Sports Medicine Australia will distribute the brochures throughout Australia, through the fitness industry, sports clubs, coaches and trainers, doctors and allied health professionals.
For more information, contact:
Dr Deirdre McGhee, The University of Wollongong (02) 42214980
Amanda Boshier, Sports Medicine Australia, 0412 224729