My second reaction was, “I wish I could pull over and give her a better sports bra.” She may as well have not even had one on. We’ve all seen it, or probably been her, when you workout and the breasts take off like the arms of a kid jumping out of a swing. They move every which way but that which they should be headed.

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It’s not just unsightly or painful, this multi-directional effect of a good workout and bad sports bra on the breasts can actually have a detrimental effect on your breast health. Strap ‘em in ladies; the cost could be more than a quality sports bra investment.

New research from the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, published by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, found that “the breast was a barrier to physical activity participation for 17 percent of women.” Our recent sports bra nightmare stories are clue enough — the wrong sports bra can scare any woman away from the mildest workout. Sitting around looks better than the pain, embarrassment, and poor breast health that can come from a low performance or low quality sport bra.

No matter how small or large your breasts are, proper support throughout any workout is imperative. Not only does it minimize superfluous movement from “the girls” that could interfere with the workout, but it minimizes or eliminates pain associated with those movements. While the woman we saw running last week was committed to her workout, there’s no doubt she was painfully uncomfortable.

The scariest part is that there is real damage being caused to the breast tissue when “the ladies” aren’t properly stowed away.

“Not properly supporting your breasts, or wearing an ill-fitted sports bra, can potentially be harmful to the tissues of the breast over time. Running pulls on the breast in all directions: in, out, up, down and side-to-side. This movement can weaken the connective tissue that supports the breasts causing it to lose elasticity and even permanently damage your breasts,” explained personal trainer and fitness expert Kelly Turner in an interview at DietsInReview.com.

Running, doing Zumba, riding a horse, cycling, or anything above a mall walk can put great strain on your breasts. Wearing the right sports bra for the right activity can ensure your breasts are protected, and that you feel comfortable enough to make the activity routine.

Sports bras weren’t the only thing keeping women from exercising. Study respondents cited energy or motivation at #1, time constraints at #2, and general health at #3. Breasts were the #4 reason women don’t workout.

The goal of the study is to spread the word about the breast health/sports bra relationship.

“Breast health knowledge increased the use of a sports bra and levels of physical activity,” the study cited.

The researchers, Emma Burnett, Jenny White, and Joanna Scurr, concluded that with 33 percent of women not meeting minimum physical activity recommendations, the importance for increased “breast health knowledge” could be an effective tool in reducing known barriers and getting more women logging more physical activity.

If I’d had a spare ENELL in my trunk, I’d have pulled over and properly outfitted that woman on her evening run. I can hope you won’t be the next victim of a bad sports bra on a good run! 

Come in wearing a regular bra (not sports, not push-up, not heavily padded) and allow a half hour for the fit. Remember, you don't want 32 longs!! It will make a night and day difference on your runs!

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