Activewear garments are not only practical for exercising but have gained a stylish reputation and aesthetic within the fashion industry. You may have purchased your gym membership and equipment, but I can almost guarantee one specific item that you have not considered in your stylish, active image, is your sports bra.
You may not realise it, but your sports bra is more important than you are made aware of. Your bra is your ‘biggest supporter’ when taking part in any physical activity! Activewear is initially created to be suitable for sport-specific activities, providing benefits such as enhanced endurance and safety. The ‘Vogueish’ appearance should always be second on your list, Ladies!
Research has found exercising without a fitted sports bra can cause problems in the long term. Once your breasts have stretched, they stay this way, creating a nightmare for women - sagging breasts.
I have been in and out of hospitals from an early age. As depressing as that sentence may seem, the memories are not. I come from a family filled with an optimistic, and compassionate mindset. Therefore, any hospital visit was never planted in my head as a scary experience. I also come from a family of Breast Cancer victims.
Breast Cancer isn’t a fun diagnosis for anyone. It breaks down your daily life, throwing your relationships, career and general sanity into chaos. My Nanna was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in her forties and again in her fifties. My Auntie and many of my Cousins were diagnosed in their thirties. Then my Mam. My Mam tested positive for the BRAC Gene in her twenties. The BRAC Gene determines that you have cancerous cells within your breasts and ovaries, and just like a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s agonising.
My Mam has always educated me to check my breasts and be confident to speak about my femininity, but growing up, I have noticed women face a disproportionate impact on our sexual wellbeing. This can affect us throughout our lives, yet there seems to be almost a taboo when it comes to talking about it… For instance, I don’t know many women who are confident enough to get a bra professionally fitted, despite the benefits of wearing a correctly fitted bra.
Statistically, 80% of woman in the UK have the wrong bra fitted (Edita Solak). When simple exercise is carried out, a woman's breasts can move up and down by 8.5cm but wearing an ordinary bra reduces this by 32%. A well-fitting sports bra reduces this by at least another 20% (Positive Change).
Now for the facts: breasts are mostly built up of composed fatty tissues. These fatty tissues are maintained mostly by the skin and tenuous ligaments called ‘Coopers’ ligaments. The suspensory ligaments are not elastic, nor are they delicate. They are tough and fibrous, therefore, during continuous or high impact exercise (Running, Aerobics, CrossFit etc.) the breasts bounce and pull on the ligaments, causing them to stretch. Remember, once stretched, they stay this way.
When I was 18, developing saggy breasts was the last thing on my mind. That being said, body image as a whole was living in my mind rent-free- just like any other insecure teenager! I began running and attending boot camp classes. Developing a flair for cardio and love for endorphins, I began to take part in high impact exercise at least 5 days a week. Not only was I new to the environment, but I was new to wearing activewear. So new, that I attended my first Bootcamp wearing a t-shirt bra- hardly the most supportive garment to wear! After a while, I found three lumps in my breasts; two in my right, one in my left. They were tough and sore, but initially, I did not connect them to working out. Due to my family history, I was referred to the hospital straight away. Thankfully, they were not cancerous, but they were caused by me not providing my breasts with the correct support.
Trust me, getting your breasts measured and fitted with a supportive bra is worth doing to avoid having any sort of cancerous scare. It’s worth tackling that taboo.
Please take my simple steps of advice, both from myself and from my doctor during this Breast Cancer Awareness month:
- Know your size. Have your breasts measured by a Specialist.
- Quality over quantity. Try to buy from a specialised activewear brand. Avoid buying bras from brands that do not specialise in the specific exercise you’re wanting to take part in.
- Be prepared to pay a little more for your bra.
- Support does not mean a super tight bra. You still need to be comfortable.
- ALWAYS check your breasts.
I was encouraged to write this blog and honour it in Beth Pattison’s name. Beth Pattison was a family friend who we lost to Breast Cancer back in June 2020. Beth was an amazing soul, always smiling and advocating charity work for the Breast Cancer CoppaFeel campaign. Beth was selfless. Beth volunteered and encouraged so many others battling the same war she did. Unfortunately, Beth is no longer with us, but the encouragement and passion she endorsed lives on. Beth’s story has pushed me into starting my genetic testing, and I hope I have carried on her motivation to educate. Your bra truly does hold more than you know.
Please find the link below if you’re interested in contributing to the charity.
Written by Casey Hudson, YANA Active's fabulous Intern x