Health Tips - Breast Support

 
Breast Support

Breasts sit on top of chest muscles, but contain almost no muscle at all. They are made up of fat, milk ducts and connective tissues, such as collagen and ligaments called Cooper’s ligaments. Cooper’s ligaments are a complex network of ligaments similar to a spider web spread throughout the breast.

Ligaments atrophy, or get thin and weak, when they are not put to use by bearing weight or when they are immobilized. When breasts are immobilized within bras, Cooper’s ligaments no longer do much work and research suggests that breast tissues sag more. If breast ligaments behave like limb ligaments, it may be a matter of “use it or lose it”. One such study was done in 1991 at the Otsuma Women’s University in Tokyo, Japan, where the effect was most noticeable in larger-breasted women.

Another study was done in France in 2003 conducted by Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports medicine specialist at the University Hospital in Besançon and Dr. Laetitia Pierrot. Two hundred fifty young women stopped wearing a bra completely for one year, including during sports. The subjects practiced a sports activity for at least four hours per week and were separated into those doing “vertical” sports, such as gymnastics or foot racing, and “horizontal” sports such as swimming. They were measured regularly. The ladies experienced initial discomfort from abandoning the bra. By the end of the year, 88% of the women reported improved comfort compared to before the study, including while participating in sports. Measurements showed firmer and more elevated breasts. The distance from the nipple to the shoulder bone was reduced. They noted a better muscular development in the rotator muscles of the shoulders and the pectoralis muscles. There was a major reduction in stretch marks during the first six weeks and no significant difference between the vertical and horizontal sporting subjects.

Professor Göran Samsioe in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sweden’s Lund University says that “everyday, natural movements” encourage the development of the breast-supporting tissues. “If natural movement is restricted by a bra that is too tight, it can affect the growth of these tissues.” Young women with developing breasts may be more likely to have side effects from wearing bras too tight. He says, “If you feel uncomfortable without a bra, you should use one, as long as it allows your breasts to move in a natural way.”

Sports Bras

Jogging or high-impact sports may have a unique effect on Cooper’s ligaments, especially with heavier breasts. The intense bouncing may result in stretching of the ligaments and increased sagging. In this case of very active vertical sport, I recommend sports bras during the time of the sport.

Suggestions

  • If you wear a bra, try to use one that allows for natural breast motion.
  • When you can, allow breasts to be bra-free, so that Cooper’s ligaments can be “in use”.
  • Wear a sports bra during high-impact sports such as jogging, especially if your breasts are heavy.
  • Read the health tip Bras for further suggestions on healthy breasts.
  • As healthy nutrition helps strengthen Cooper’s ligaments, read and apply these Nutrition tips for better breast health.

Best wishes!

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