Nice breasts are a crucial 'ingredient' of femininity, but women play a heavy price for this: no matter if poorly-endowed or too generous, bouncing boobs are not really 'supported' by ordinary bras.
A new research made at the University of Portsmouth in England found that while exercising, women's breasts bounce more than previously thought, with a vertical movement up to 8 inches (21 cm) compared with previous data of 6 inches (16 cm). The bouncing provokes pain and a deterioration of the limited support tissue, as breasts can weigh even over 20 pounds (9 kg), and a pair of D-cup breasts weighs about 15 to 23 pounds (7 to 10 kilograms). The fashion evolved from body-tight corsets to cleavage-enhancing wonderbras, but there's design, sexiness and no science at all.
"It is only recently that bra design has turned to science. There was no research. It's like designing a car or kitchen equipment without first thinking 'what is the purpose of this?" said author Joanna Scurr, a biomechanics professor at the University of Portsmouth in England.
She made her research on 70 subjects, all students at the University of Portsmouth, with bra sizes varying from A-cup to extra-large J and JJ. The subjects had to walk, jog and run while wearing different bra types. Meanwhile, Scurr accounted the breast movement in three directions: up-and-down, side-to-side and in-and-out. While walking, the women's breasts moved in relatively the same degree in all directions. When subjects increased the speed of jogging or running, their breasts' movement increased more in some directions: 50 % of the total movement was up-down, 22 % side-to-side and 27 % in-and-out.
Common bras intend to decrease only the up-and-down motion. The encapsulation bras, in which each breast has a separate cup, were found better, impeding some of the movement in the other two directions, than the compression bras, which stop just the up-and-down motion.
For an A-cup size, sports bras can decrease overall breast movement by 53 %, and by 55 % for G-cup sized women. "Breasts have little natural support, although ligaments and the skin are thought to do most or all of the work. Breasts are made up of fat, milk ducts and connective tissues, such as collagen, ligaments and blood vessels. The momentum created by intense bouncing can stretch the breast's connective tissues, causing sagging and pain for many women. An estimated 50 % of women experience breast pain during exercise," said Scurr.
"Without appropriate bra support, some women abandon active sports due to breast pain. There really are women who want to do exercise but who don't have the bras to cope. I know of a 16-year-old who was selected to play basketball for the county, but she was told to give it up because she couldn't find a bra that made playing possible." she added.
Scurr collaborated with main bra manufacturers in Britain and worldwide for designing a bra which allows minim breast movement in all three directions. "The next bra will incorporate "smart materials" that can change to provide custom-made support for each woman and her activity level."