Breast Health – is your bra right for you?

Over half of women in the UK who take part in sport are at risk of losing natural elasticity because they don’t wear a sports bra (MORI, 2000). Between 70 – 80 per cent still wear the wrong bra size. 


To help combat our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, it is vitally important we take regular exercise. Brisk walking and running are excellent ways to stay in shape but have you thought about the impact regular exercise can have on your breasts?

Exercise and your breasts

Repetitive and high-impact activities make the breasts bounce, stretching the breast skin and ligaments.

Exercising in – and wearing – an unsupportive bra can cause problems such as chronic back pain, poor posture, neck and shoulder pain, and premature breast sagging as they lose their natural elasticity.

It is very important to maintain strength in the muscles in your chest, shoulders and neck in order to provide support for the weight of the breasts. Make an effort to work these muscles to give your breasts the additional support they need.

The following easy exercises can be carried out at your desk or in front of the television:

1. Many of us slump with our shoulders rolled forward. While standing, roll your shoulders outwards so that your thumbs are facing backwards. Push your shoulder blades back and down. Try to increase the distance between the shoulders as this will help your breasts to sit higher on the chest

2. Place your hands together in a prayer stance. Press your palms firmly together. You should feel tension in your pectoral muscles which are important in supporting the breasts

3. Interlink your fingers behind you. Stretch your arms out and back. You will feel a pull in the front of your chest, which will help reverse any slumping.


Poor posture can lead to mechanical problems, dysfunction and pain from structures that are stressed from slumping or slouching.

Standing and sitting tall can help improve the look of your breasts as you’ll be able to carry them higher, thereby giving them greater support. In addition, your posture will be improved minimising the risk of developing pain and discomfort.

You can improve the look of your breasts by pulling your shoulders back and down. Don’t stick your chest out!

If you are well endowed, an unsupportive bra can cause you to slump or fold your shoulders forward. A supportive bra should hold your breasts firmly in place and help open up your chest.

Picking the right sports bra

There are two types of sports bras:

  • Compression bras are suitable for small to medium breasted women (cup sizes 32A - 36B). They help press the breasts against the chest wall to minimise bounce and enhance support.
  • Encapsulation bras are suitable for large breasted women where there is much more bounce. They help support and hold each breast in a sturdy cup.

The right fit

Wearing the correct size bra will mean you will look great, be well supported and ward off unnecessary discomfort. It is important to check your bra size annually and make changes if necessary

Many department stores offer a professional bra fitting service. Make use of these services to help find the right bra for you.

Taking active steps to make sure you are wearing the right bra for your size and shape, and when you exercise, will help you to look great and maintain good postural health.

Download the leaflet more more detailed advice.