On Wednesday 8th March – we had the great pleasure of welcoming Tish Monahan from She Science, a specialty sports bra store in Kew, to Thompsons Road Physiotherapy. Tish kindly presented to a group of our clients for a free women’s health lecture on breasts, bras and biomechanics. It was the first in a three-part series we will be hosting this year.
Tish brought an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise to the evening. With a ten year background as a Podiatrist working within the technical footwear industry, combined with a personal interest in breast health, Tish found herself making the change in career path towards ‘breasts and bras’. She is the co-founder and manager of She Science, a Specialty Sports Bra store, which she sees as a vehicle to inspire and enable women of all shapes and sizes to participate actively in life, with the right support to help them!
And of course as a physiotherapy clinic – we couldn’t agree more with the importance of being active! Movement is medicine for the body – and having the right bra means our clients will keep moving well!
During her in-depth presentation we learnt about the natural support structures of the breasts (skin and cooper’s ligaments) and how over time these tissues lose their elasticity and holding power, which is why we need great support from our earliest bra-wearing days! She also showed us some very interesting video footage of breast tissue movements during jumping and walking – comparing no-bra vs. daywear bra vs. sports bra. It was AMAZING to see how much breasts can move even in regular walking! It made us realise how important a great bra is!
We learnt about what makes a good bra:
- good quality materials
- straps with a non-elastic and an adjustable elastic component
- appropriate cup structure and coverage
- a strong and sturdy chest strap with a well-formed gusset
- appropriate number of hooks to support and distribute load across the chest
- proper underwire size and fit
She explained that the chest strap should carry around 80% of the bust weight, and the shoulder straps should carry around 20% of the bust weight. Tish also explained that cup size is related to chest strap size, rather than a specific volume, and that neither of these parameters are well standardised across different brands and manufacturers. For example 8D = size of an apple, whilst 22D = size of a rockmelon! This means that three different label sizes may all fit you well! To illustrate this an 8DD, 10D and 12C are all “sister sizes”. The result of this is that you could potentially walk out of a shop with two or three different sized bras, which all fit you perfectly!
In combination with this – we learnt that the CORRECT FIT is the most IMPORTANT factor that makes a “good bra”. This means that a well constructed bra is the wrong fit/size is as bad as a poorly constructed bra. Tish explained that most women are wearing the wrong bra size, which can lead to a variety of issues such as:
- chest and shoulder discomfort
- breast pain (mastalgia) – at rest / exercise induced
- poor posture
- neck pain and headache
- excessive breast movement – which importantly can lead to reduced participation in activity, especially exercise and sport -which we know is essential for good health!
- poor life-span of your bra
Some common ways in which bras fail us are:
- chest strap too loose – which can lead to slippage of the chest strap upwards and breasts downwards
- over-tightened shoulder straps (to fix the problem above) – which cuts into the shoulders and can contribute to pain and poor posture
- wrong size cup – which can lead to compression and pain in breast tissue or spillage of tissue, or lack of proper support
- low quality materials that lose their elasticity quickly and thus don’t support properly
Tish suggested the following tips for women when the are bra shopping, to ensure they get a fabulous, supportive and comfortable fit:
- get fitted by an expert – look out for inexperienced retail assistants who might have only had one day of “training”
- be wary of the bright and pretty “best selling” bras – they sell well because the marketing is excellent, not because the bra is of “best” quality
- take time trying on different brands
- avoid the cheap fashion bras
- keep in mind the features listed above and make sure your purchases are well constructed
- consider a sports bra for day to day wear
Interestingly, during our discussions of the evening – we explored the idea of wearing a sports bra as a regular day bra. Tish said that this can be a great option, as a sports bra is really just a “support bra”. Because many daywear bras are poorly made and fitted badly, many of us would benefit from opting for a sports bra for day to day living. Why trade off on support, or limit enjoying the best support to your exercise class? We all agreed our breasts should be optimally supported all day long! In fact – one of our physios wears a sports bra to work now!
We encourage our clients to visit Tish and her team at She Science to learn about their breast and bra needs, and of course to get a professional fit. You can even test run a bra on a treadmill in-store (in a private changing room of course!). They stock over 13 industry leading brands, over 40 bra styles, cups A-J and band sizes 6-24.