Category Archives: Breast Biomechanics

Thoracic Pain & Large Breasts : How to manage the discomfort


The thoracic spine is the section of spine between your cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back). Each vertebrae of the thoracic spine has a rib connected on either side and the upper ribs connect to the sternum at the front of your body.

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Due to the attachment of the rib cage to the thoracic spine there is limited movement through the upper back region. Consequently we can often get stiff and sore in the upper back. Sometimes stiffness in the thoracic spine and in the joints between the thoracic vertebrae and ribs can refer pain to other areas such as your sides, front of torso and arms.

Position of the breast on the chest wall:

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Muscles of the chest wall:

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Muscles of the upper back:

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Some factors can increase the risk of getting stiffness and/or pain in the upper back.

Examples include:

  • Poor standing posture
  • Poor sitting posture
  • Lots of time spent sitting
  • Engaging in lots of anterior focused activities and exercises
  • Having a large bust

The weight of a large bust puts increased force on the chest wall and can, amongst other things:

  • Tighten the pectoreal muscles
  • Pull the shoulders forward (which can also lead to various shoulder injuries)
  • Round the top of the thoracic spine (kyphosis)

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Some ways to prevent and treat pain and/or stiffness in the upper back:

  • Massage of the chest and shoulders
  • Physiotherapy (which may include mobilisation of the thoracic spine)
  • Spikey ball/tennis ball/cricket ball self-release of pec muscles blog pic jblog pic k
  • Stretches- focused on opening the chest and loosening the thoracic spine
  • Upper back strengthening exercises

  • Improving posture
  • Using a lumbar roll for support when sitting
  • Decreasing time spent sitting or interspersing sitting with regular standing/walking/stretching
  • Modifying activities to decrease load on front of body
  • Getting properly fitted for a good-quality brablog pic u
  • Wearing a good quality, fitted sports bra for exercise

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If you are experiencing ongoing upper back or chest pain and these steps do not help please consult a medical professional.


By Lauren Starr, Physiotherapist

Hi, my name is Lauren Starr and I’m a 28 year old physiotherapist. I’ve been working in a busy physiotherapy clinic in Melbourne’s South East for three years now and I love it! As well as assessing and treating people in rooms, I also take clinical pilates, hydrotherapy and yoga classes.

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Outside of work I spend most of my time running. I have been focussing on athletics recently, but I also compete in trail and road events.

I am lucky enough to have a partner and dog who also love running so we go on lots of running adventures together in our campervan.

In my downtime I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading and baking.


Understanding Bra Fitting and Bra Features to improve your riding

By Tish Monahan, founder of Sports Bra Store, She Science

FIND US AT EQUITANA John Deere Pavilion, Stand 128

tish horse


Anecdotally we understand that breasts and horse-riding haven’t always paired well together, but it wasn’t until recently that we truly understood the nature of this barrier to participation.  A study that was conducted on over 1300 female horse riders demonstrated 40% of participants experience breast pain in the saddle, with 21% reporting that is affected their riding. The conclusion was made that education regarding bra fitting and breast support was required in order to improve the comfort and performance of female riders.

The most important thing to get right when you are purchasing a bra is the fit. You could be in the most expensive bra with the greatest online reviews but if the bra doesn’t fit you perfectly it has no chance of functioning well.

Here are my tips to buying your best Sports Bra for horse riding:

  1. Know where the support comes from.

It’s actually the band that runs around the ribcage that is responsible for stabilising breast tissue and decreasing breast displacement (bounce!). If this band is too loose then the band will ride up and down your back and the front will follow in a see-saw effect. This leads to out of control breast displacement during activity. This is the component of most bra fittings that women often get wrong, and it is the most important part to get right. Knowing that this band needs to fit firmly in order for it to sit securely and stay in place will put you in good stead when it comes to finding your best bra.

  1. Coverage is key

The breast moves in three directions when we are riding. It moves in and out, side to side and up and down. The up and down movement is the most excessive movement. This vertical pattern of movement must be controlled in order to reduce your overall breast displacement when riding. Along with getting the right bra fit, coverage is the next most important feature to look at to control this movement. A bra that exposes cleavage will often provide an escape route for soft breast tissue during activity.

  1. Shoulder straps and posture for horse riding

The shoulder straps are important, we’d be in trouble without them, but they are often relied on too much. The shoulder straps are there to add stability, not to take the weight of the breast. A mistake often made which significantly impacts ones riding posture is pulling the shoulder straps to tightly which causes us to roll our shoulders and hunch forward, making it impossible to sit tall in the saddle and ride with the correct hand position. This over-tightening of straps often coincides with the ribcage band being too loose, and the wearer then feeling the need to tighten the straps to compensate.

  1. Shape, Style and How your Jacket sits

I can certainly tell you that shape is subjective. Some people want a flattened look under their jacket and others prefer a more well defined and shapely look. I find that in many cases this will depend also on the fit of one’s jacket.

To achieve a flattened look which could work best under jackets that possibly fit too tightly, then a bra that compresses the breast tissue down will work best. These are typically non underwire bras, and will result in more of a ‘uni-boob’ look.  Some popular options for this are the D+ Classic, Enell Sport or Jubralee.

For those looking for a more shapely look that still offers great support then a bra with underwire and a moulded cup will be most effective. This style will leave the wearer with a more defined and lifted ‘two boob’ look. Great examples of this are the Ultimate Performance, Panache Sport and Epic Sports Bra.

Some of our best rated Sports Bra’s for horse-riding

JUNO, available C – E cup


















D+ CLASSIC, available D – H cup









MOMENTUM, available D – G cup









ENELL SPORT, available approx. D – J cup









A bit about She Science

She Science is Australia’s only Sports Bra Store. We specialise in the fitting and prescription of technical Sports Bras for cup sizes A – J and band sizes 6 – 24. Our range is sourced from 12 industry leading brands from around the world, with over 40 styles to choose from.

In store we offer a comprehensive bra fitting service, optional treadmill wear testing and the use of the motion analysis software to assist us in finding each customer their best Sports Bra.

Our full range is also available online for those shopping from interstate.


Best Bra Fitter Australia Melbourne


Tish is the co-founder and director of She Science, a Specialty Sports Bra and Sports Wear store in Melbourne. Tish has completed Advanced Bra Fitting training both locally and internationally as well as tertiary education in biomechanics. She follows the latest research on breast biomechanics and Sports Bra design religiously to ensure that She Science remains the most advanced Sports Bra shopping environment in the world. Tish views her Sports Bra business as a vehicle for her to inspire and enable women of all shapes and sizes to participate actively in life. Find Tish online via @SheScience. 


Moving Comfort Jubralee Product Review

By Priscilla Barrington, Triathlete, She Science Ambassador

Triathlon Sports Bra Australia Melbourne

For the past few years I have been wearing just lycra crop tops to exercise in. As my training regime has increased over time, sadly my two best friends have decreased and I’ve given them very little attention! I think it is natural for girls like me to shrug off good support with the thought “I’m small – there’s nothing to support!”

Getting fitted at She Science was the first proper fitting I have ever had. The first and most basic step of measuring my chest diameter showed instantly I was wearing the wrong sized bra. Jayde from She Science gave me a few options to try out on the treadmill and also measured the “bounce” – which yes, whilst being ‘small’ the advantage of minimal movement was evident, however there was definitely a difference between the brands. This was particularly evident when at the end I tried a bra that is most similar to what I was previously wearing (lycra crop top) and the movement was clearly greater.

I ended up choosing the Moving Comfort Jubralee bra. Just like clothing, sizes vary between brands and with much excitement I can tell the world I am wearing a whopping 8C!!! Minutes prior had I picked one up off the shelf I would have bought a 10A… I cannot get over the importance of a proper fitting, and recommend it to anyone who will listen!

Moving Comfort Jubralee MelbourneI have now being wearing the Jubralee for a month and absolutely love it. The bra gives more shape than the old lycra crop tops which increases self-confidence – particularly important when getting around in lycra! The Jubralee is traditional in style with two straps over the shoulders, which took some getting use to as I am accustomed to wearing an action back style sports bra. However this style means your back is more exposed and therefore cooler, which has been particularly great over these summer months. It also means you can clip the bra up at the front and spin it around (for those like me who struggle to clip up behind!) – which avoids stretching the bra over your head every wear like you do with a crop top which quickly stretches the bra and makes it ill fitting.

The Jubralee is comfortable, breathable, shapely and fits well under all my sports clothes. I highly recommend it to women of all sizes!

By Priscilla Barrington


Priscilla is a serial podium finished at short course Triathlon nation wide. As her competitive side developed she fell in love with the short course triathlons as she realised she could compete more often with these distances.  Her weekly training schedule is made up on 10 different swim, bike and run sessions. Priscilla is our go-to women for all things Triathlon! Follow her via her BlogInstagram.  



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Shock Absorber Sports Bra Stockist Melbourne Australia

We proudly stock the widest range of Shock Absorber Sports Bras in Australia.

Our shop front and online store stock four of Shock Absorbers most tried and tested Sports Bras, which include:

–          The Ultimate Run Bra / B5044

Ultimate Run Bra

Ultimate Run Bra










–          The Active D+ Classic Support / N109

Active D+ Classic

Active D+ Classic










–         The Active Multi Support (also called the D+ Max Sports Bra Top) / B4490

Active Multi

Active Multi










–      The Active Shaped / S015F

Active Shaped

Active Shaped










She Science stocks Shock Absorber Sports Bras in cup sizes A – H, and back sizes 8 – 18 (30-40).

Having worked closely with industry leading breast biomechanists in the UK, Shock Absorber have a reputation in the market place for being innovative leaders. Scientific analysis shows that Shock Absorber Sports Bras can reduce breast displacement by up to 74% during activity.

Our private in store treadmills will give you opportunity to put a Shock Absorber Sports Bra to the test next time you are in store.


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Effect of Breast Support on our gait pattern

Now accustomed to analysing the female running kinematics I can’t help but giggle when I see women run down the stairs or across the road, noting that each and every time they clutch their elbows against their sides and press their forearms against their breasts as if it is an instinctive reaction. Which led me to explore this in much greater detail. To come to my very own, not-quite-scientifically-proven point that it is in fact ‘instinctive’.

It’s well documented in the literature, and very much so noted in my biomechanical breast assessments that women contract their pectorial muscles and limit their arm swing when running ‘unsupported’, which results in unnatural upper body mechanics. This is apparent with women running bare chested, and can also be noted for women running in bras with less support eg every day and low motion control Sports Bras.

Naturally, the Podiatrist in me is itching to talk lower limb, so here I go… In Boschma’s. (1994) 113 page report on Breast Support for the active woman it is stated that women with a larger bust naturally decreased their stride length with a reduction in breast support. This follows everything we know in the footwear industry about ground reaction forces, stride length and foot strike pattern.

When we extend our stride length and land on our heel, there is an increased ground reaction force when compared to if we decrease our stride length and land on our forefoot/midfoot.

Think back to the last time you ran to cross the road. How did your gait change? I’ll tell you. You propped up on your toes, clutched your arms against your sides and compressed your breasts against your chest wall. All for a very good reason. By striking on your forefoot instead of your heel, the forces that travel up your leg to your torso decrease, which is thought to then reduce the vertical displacement of the breast.

What does this all mean? Most of us are habitual heel strikers, so if we alter our gait to protect our breasts from pain caused by excessive motion (or velocity of displacement) then we better be doing so SLOWLY to allow for conditioning of our lower limb musculature. If we don’t allow both the bone and soft tissue in our lower limb time to adapt to a change in load then pretty quickly your deficient “Sports Bra” could result in a metatarsal stress fracture. Sounds a bit farfetched? And maybe it is. But my point is one that should be noted. There are enough factors out there that will contribute to the long list of lower limb stress related running injuries. Don’t let your Sports Bra become another one.

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Sports Medicine Australia ‘Be Active’ conference, Deirdre McGhee

This weekend saw me trek to Sydney for Sports Medicine Australia’s annual conference. SMA has recently funded a project led by Breast Health Researcher Deirdre McGhee to increase the awareness of Breast health in sport. They have recently put out a brochure titled ‘Exercise & Breast Support’ that is available to download via their website, the link to this is listed below.

Deidre spent the hour detailing mistakes that women commonly make in both bra selection and fit. I’ll be blogging on all of this in greater detail in the coming months. It was also interesting to meet and chat with many physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and general practitioners about the implications that poor bra fit can have on women’s health. Most of this centred around neural impingement (generally from tight straps digging in to the trapezius muscles) and thoracic kyphosis.

It’s great to see Sports Medicine Australia acknowledging the need for greater education on breast health in the community.

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Some of the science behind breast biomechanics

Studies recently conducted in the UK have shown there to be a vast difference in movement of the breast unsupported (bare chested or an everyday bra) versus movement in a Sports Bra. I have recreated images to depict these different motions below.

breast biomechanics, unsupported breast motin

Unsupported, pendulum motion.

breast biomechanics, supported breast motion

Supported, butterfly motion.

When looking at the two images above you will see that an unsupported breast moves in one long continuous action. The momentum the breast gains during each long bounce results in a rapidly moving breast. It is the rate of this motion that is thought to cause damage to the breasts natural support structures, the skin and Coopers ligaments.

When comparing this to the motion detected in a supported breast you will note that the overall displacement is reduced both vertically and horizontally. Not only this, there are frequent changes in direction which results in less momentum being gained and a slower rate of displacement.

Two prominent Breast Health Researchers, Dr Joanna Scurr and Dr Jenny White and their teams have been instrumental in the findings many Sports Bra companies are now using to develop and test their products. These researchers have pushed the needs of many women into the once male dominated field of sports science and biomechanics.

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There’s more than just bounce to worry about

Most of us have heard (and experienced) the bounce factor while jogging… So it’d be fair to say we are all familiar with the concept that our breasts can leap in the vertical direction. This vertical displacement accounts for roughly 50% of our total breast movement. But, what most women are uninformed about is the TRI-planar motion that our chest actually moves in while exercising.

That is, that our boobs also actually move in a lateral (towards our arms) direction, as well as an anterior-posterior direction, which basically means they move inwards and outwards. These are the other two planes in which movement occurs.

So… Why is this information actually relevant? Different Sports Bras are built with different mechanisms of support to control each of the motions mentioned above. With the advanced technology and materials now used in the construction of Sports Bra’s, and with the right advice, there should be no reason that women experience breast discomfort during activity.

As a runner and general exercise enthusiast, who has previously suffered from exercise induced breast pain myself, its frustrating to see so many women opt out of activity all together because they feel unsupported when they exercise.

Relevant to the above, a mistake I see being made most often is women wearing a ‘crop top’ style ‘sports bra’ that only acts to compress the bust. This is only really effective in controlling one plane of motion, that being the inwards and outwards (anterior-posterior) motion. It’s generally not an effective mechanism of support for high impact activity, which it is commonly used for.

Hopefully by now you may be starting to realise that there is a whole world of science behind breast biomechanics. It has only been in the past 15 years that we have seen research undertaken on breast motion and the effect of sports bra’s on breast support and performance.

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