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Breast Elevation and Compression Decrease Exercise-Induced Breast Discomfort


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 7 - p 1333-1338
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ca7fd8
Applied Sciences

Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate whether a sports bra designed to both elevate and compress the breasts could decrease exercise-induced breast discomfort and bra fit discomfort experienced by women with large breasts relative to a standard encapsulation sports bra.

Methods: Breast kinematic data, bra fit comfort, exercise-induced breast discomfort, and bra rankings in terms of preference to wear during running were compared in 20 women with large breasts who ran on a treadmill under three bra conditions: an experimental bra that incorporated both breast compression and elevation, an encapsulation sports bra, and a placebo bra. Subjective data were collected immediately before and after the treadmill running trials.

Results: Exercise-induced breast discomfort (P < 0.01) and bra discomfort (P < 0.01) were significantly less for the experimental bra condition relative to the sports bra and placebo bra. This reduction in discomfort was achieved through greater breast elevation (P < 0.01) and compression, with no difference found in vertical breast displacement (P = 0.12) or vertical breast velocity (P = 0.06).

Conclusions: The design features of greater breast elevation and compression provided significantly increased breast and bra comfort compared with a standard encapsulation sports bra during physical activity for women with large breasts.

Biomechanics Research Laboratory, School of Health Sciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA

Address for correspondence: Deirdre E. McGhee, B.App.Sc (Phty), Biomechanics Research Laboratory, School of Health Sciences, University of Wollongong, Northfields Ave., Wollongong NSW 2522, Australia; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2009.

Accepted for publication November 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine