Monthly Archives: April 2013

Sports Bras, could going bare be better?

Since the recent completion of a 15 year study conducted out of the University of Franche-Comté which looked at the long term effect of bras I’ve seen a dozen or so media articles referencing the ‘findings’. The media seem to have gone a little crazy around the notion that bras may not in fact have any long term effect on reducing breast sag, which has made for some interesting reading.

Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon advises that the results show “Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity”. Their findings also conclude that nipples were found to sit higher in the non-bra-wearing women, and that the chest musculature of this experimental group had developed more muscle bulk to cope with the demands of carrying the otherwise unsupported breast.

Coming from a footwear background the ‘bare is better’ argument has been done to death and as such is a little lost on me. I’ve written about breast sag in the past, and agree that there has been no solid research to suggest that bras do in fact prevent sagging breasts. While I certainly appreciate the fact that so much time and resource is being channelled in to breast health, I am far from convinced that this should change the way women look to bras for breast support.

After all, why is it that you put a bra on every day?

Not many would answer ‘to prevent my breasts from sagging’ in their first breathe. Most of us wear bras to enhance our shape, improve comfort and avoid the embarrassment of breasts bouncing as we move.

15 years ago we would have winced at the idea of running barefoot, but nowadays you don’t have to look far to find someone donning a barefoot running shoe of some description. Fortunately for us ladies I can’t see this extreme being applied to our Sports Bras so there is no predication on my part of a bare-chested running fad! Our arm swing and torso movement is significantly alterted with a reduction in breast support, caused largely by our instinctive reaction to prevent the pain associated with an increase in vertical and lateral breast displacement. Efficient upper body body movement assists with propulsion and balance. It is essentially the reciprocal motion of our legs and is highly considered when assessing someones overall running biomechanics. So hold off on burning your Sports Bras ladies, they aren’t going anywhere!

she science bra support study

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How long have you been on diet? The Female Athlete Triad.

The Female Athlete Triad was first identified as a major issue in some disciplines of sport during the 80’s. It is commonly seen in women striving for body image ‘perfection’ and women aiming to compete at a high level in sports that require leanness.

It is a combination of disordered eating, amenorrhoea and osteoporosis that can cause lifelong symptoms which may eventually become fatal. The medical complications that arise from the triad are vast and include cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, reproductive, skeletal, renal and central nervous system ailments.

The reason I have elected to delve in to this is because this syndrome actually affects many of us to varied degrees. So if you don’t think you suffer from any of the triad components maybe you need think again.

1. Disordered eating – This simply translates to an energy deficient diet. Most of us have been guilty of this when trying to lose weight or going ‘carb free’ for an extended period. There’s no problem with energy in being less than energy out, but when this is executed in extremes and for a prolonged period of time there are serious long term effects. While there may be a big difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating in our minds, they are not differentiated in the Triad as their long term effects are so similar.

2. Amenorrhoea – By definition this means cessation of menstruation. However this can present as a total loss, reduced frequency, decreased duration or irregular period.

3. Osteoporosis – A compromised bone strength aka low bone density. The precursor to this condition, Osteopenia is thought to affect a much higher portion of the population than those that are formerly diagnosed with one study of “normal healthy females” finding 56% of women showed signs of low bone mineral density.

Like with most medical syndromes there is a sliding scale of severity, with many suffering the milder symptoms but are at great risk of rapidly sliding down the scale. As the components are so related if you start suffering with one of the components of the triad it can very quickly trigger the others.

Some common early signs and symptoms are stress fractures, a slow healing rate, depression, fatigue, infertility, hair loss, dry skin, cold extremities and cessation of menstruation.

So now might be a good time to have your bone density checked, start tracking your menstruation more carefully and take a good look at any restrictions you’ve been placing on your diet. I hope this serves as a good reminder that there are long term consequences to the seemingly small day-to-day diet and training errors we make.

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How much does a breast weigh?

Of course there is no one answer to this question as breast size obviously has a large effect on breast mass.
As a lead in to an article I plan on writing about breast velocity, acceleration and force at a run I thought I’d cover breast weight separately as to avoid information overload!
To keep things consistent I have selected a size 10 (32) band for each cup size below (as we know, cup volume changes with each different band size). These figures represent the weight of 1 breast, not both.
10A – .43kg
10B – .56kg
10C – .70kg
10D- .86kg
10E- 1.1kg
10F – 1.3kg
10G – 1.5kg
10H – 1.8kg
Naturally the above is just a guide, breast mass can differ from person to person depending on the ratio of dense breast tissue to fatty tissue in the breast. The average density of breast tissue is considered to be 0.9kg/L.
For product developers and breast biomechanists breast mass is regarded often as it is well documented that breast mass is correlated with vertical breast displacement. This means that bras designed for those with a larger breast mass will need to be engineered to control more motion.
And… breast mass also plays an important role in determining the force of the breast during different gait patterns/speeds and support conditions.
If you’re interested in calculating the exact weight of each of your breasts there is simple way to do this at home, it is a test based on some basic physics principles. This could be a helpful way to determine a size discrepancy, which may also assist in figuring out how much padding you should use to even out your size difference.
1. Fill (to the brim) a bowl with warm water. Make sure the bowl is considerably bigger than your breast.
2. Weigh an oven / roasting tin.
3. Place your bowl of water on top of the oven / roasting tin.
4. Submerge your total mass of breast tissue in to the bowl of water. The water that spills out of your bowl and in to the oven tin should represent your breast volume.
5. Weigh the oven tin with the water. Subtract the original weight of the tin.
6. As breast tissue weighs approx. 0.9kg/L in order to convert this to the weight of breast tissue multiple the water weight by 0.9.

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Bra fit troubleshooting volume #3 – One breast bigger than the other

As this effects 1 in 3 of us, I figured it’d be a good problem to dissect.

To get us started, here is a fun fact that I learnt during my Bra fitting studies. For those of us with one breast bigger than the other, 75% of time the right breast is larger than the left. At this point in time there doesn’t seem to be any scientific theory about why.

There is only really one thing you need to know about dealing with ‘uneven breast syndrome’ (that’s my name for it!), always fit the larger breast, period. There are no buts about it, that is the only technically correctly (and most importantly, flattering!) way to do it.

If you have a full cup (or more!) size difference you should try some of my ideas below to ensure your smaller breast doesn’t look out of place in the bigger cup.

1. Look for ‘stretch’ materials in the cup. This material is more likely to conform against the smaller breast resulting in less empty space and unsightly bunching of materials.

2. Try a slightly padded contoured cup option. A padded every day bra will give a predetermined shape regardless of whether your breast fills out the cup.

3. Add chicken fillets or removable breast pads. This is obviously not appropriate for Sports Bras as there is just too much movement to accommodate this. In your every day or special occasion bra it’s a great way to go. These come in different sizes depending on where you are purchasing them from, so hunt around for a size that will give you the right adjustment.

4. Avoid underwire Sports Bras. When it comes to Sports Bras there are plenty of options without underwire cups. The right option will still give you a great shape and leave you with less chance of bunching material.

And the last piece of advice I give to my customers with uneven breasts is to ensure sure they work on their glute & leg strength of their smaller breasted side… after all, you don’t want to end up running in circles do you! (Thankfully, to date, most of my customers have managed to appreciate the humour in this!).

Good luck!

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My Moving Comfort ‘Rundies’ review

It was a girlfriend who first told me I just HAVE to get a pair of these ‘Rundies’ she picked up at a fun run in Melbourne late last year. Since that conversation I had heard a few other fellow fun-runners spreading the good word about Moving Comfort’s ‘Rundies’, so I picked myself up a pair at the Princess Park twilight run last month.  To be honest, I was seriously nervous about getting to know my new running partner, after all we were going to have a fairly intimate relationship from the get go! And here’s something you should know about my very personal underwear situation…  Being a genuine type A personality I am your stereotypical neurotic, creature of habit that is resistant to change. I can solemnly swear that for the past 7 years I have purchased only one variety of underwear, in two colour variations of course. My understanding partner can vouch for this!

So, since this review has made it to my blog it’s needless to say I was impressed. Very impressed! The recommendation was a good one. These have now officially made it on to my list of absolutely-no-doubt-about-it-must-have running accessories!

For most women the two most important features of workout underwear are unanimous. Avoiding underwear that rides up as you move and escaping the VPL (Visible Panty Line). I can assure you all, my experience with these Rundies did not leave me disappointed on either of these fronts.

They have used a mesh material around the back of the waist band which I assume is there to prevent those horrendous sweat marks that some ladies get around the top of their…err…butt cracks (is there a friendlier anatomical term for that?!). Regardless of its purpose, it’s nice! It adds to their weightless feel.

And they are not only light in weight. These are like one of those garments that you put on and you immediately forget that you are wearing. Helped by the fact that there are no irritating seams (like seriously, no irritating seams at all!) and the moisture wicking polyblend (80% Nylon, 20% Spandex) is a pleasure against the skin. My main gripe with modern day underwear is the firm elastics used around the edges of the garments that leave pressure marks and cause ingrown hairs around the bikini line – you won’t find any of those issues with these!

Looking at the overall cut, it’s clear these have been specifically designed for the active woman. I’ve seen a handful of running undies in my time that really are just a regular cut of underwear made with a more technical ‘sports’ material.  The entire garment has 20% Spandex through it so there is plenty of ‘freedom of movement’, as the materials stretch as you move.

Lastly, and for me this was the overall clincher, the waist band is wide enough to leave a flattering shape around your midsection. Hoorah! What an absolute blessing!

Whilst it was a somewhat challenging journey for me personally, I am pleased to introduce my Moving Comfort Rundies to my underwear collection. Now I just need to figure out where to store them… With my running gear, or my other undies?! I could wear these every day…

Click here to view our range of rundies.

Visit us at She Science to be fitted for your best Sports Bra:

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