Let’s hear it for the girls.
My daughter sent me a text the other day:
“Mom, you will love this podcast!”
Intrigued, I clicked on the link.
A podcast about sports bras? I’m in!
As an avid runner and boot camp athlete, sports bras have always been a staple in my athletic wardrobe. I had forgotten how basic and plain they used to be – and not always that functional. I had no idea how much engineering and design played into protecting these purposeful mammary glands.
What is the deal with boobs?
Breasts, or mammary glands, are the reason mankind survived before the invention of infant formula. The primary purpose of these two bouncy bits is to nourish new humans with all the nutrients and antibodies needed to grow strong and healthy – well, at least until they are old enough to eat soft food. Some women choose not to breastfeed at all and use supplemental formula and others choose to breastfeed for a couple of years. It is a personal choice – one that women are entitled to make based on their personal preferences and situation.
Are breasts always full of milk?
Milk production is controlled by hormones and is only produced after a woman has become pregnant, and weeks before their baby’s birth. Each breast has about a dozen lobes. These lobes contain many lobules (glands) where milk is produced and are connected by milk ducts that lead to the nipple. The nipple is where milk is expressed to feed the hungry infant. The breast is also composed of fat cells, ligaments, connective tissues, blood vessels, and lymph vessels.
Firm to floppy
Ligaments and connective tissue help keep breasts firm and perky. As we gain and lose weight, experience pregnancy, and age, the ligaments and connective tissue stretch. Breasts go from firm to floppy. Women go from sexy lacey bralets to underwire supportive bras with “perkiness” built-in.
However, there’s another culprit that affects the health of our breasts – sports.
“If God had intended women to run he would not have put breasts on them.”
Male, in the 1980’s. Really. For real. Someone actually said this.
(No comment – because there are no words…)
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon despite being harassed for being a woman in a man’s world of athletics. (Fifty years later, at age 70, she completed the Boston Marathon once again.) In fact, it would not be until 1972 before Title IV became law which allowed equal funding for men’s and women’s sports, not just men’s. Even so, when I was in high school in the late 70’s, track, basketball, and field hockey were the primary sports available to girls. That and cheerleading. Very few girls participated, however. Now, girls are playing any sport you can imagine and playing it well. Those changes all took place during my lifetime. Alleluia.
Let’s support the girls.
In the 80’s, Jane Fonda and “aerobics” – a very female-centric exercise activity – took the country by storm. It offered women a chance to move their bodies in skintight leotards. We’ve come a long way, baby! Women now box, run marathons, lift weights, play soccer…you name it…and no longer do people condemn these activities as inappropriate for women. And skintight outfits are optional.
However, increased activity means increased bounce; and I don’t mean in our steps, though that is also a positive effect. Bouncing boobs are quite uncomfortable if not downright painful for some women and those who have breasts. Research has proven that breasts swing to the left, swing to the right, up, down and all around during activity. This puts a strain on the ligaments and tissue causing them to lose their perkiness.
What is a girl to do?
Buy a sports bra.
Forty years ago, the first prototype for sports bras – called jogging bras – was developed by a couple of women using jock straps. Function over fashion! It was difficult to convince sporting goods stores to sell women’s undergarments; after all, bras were only sold in the lingerie department! After some convincing, they hit the shelves…and sold. Really sold. Women were clamoring for sports bras, which allowed more and more women to participate in sports. Bra styles have really changed over the last four decades. Now they are incredibly supportive for any breast size and super cute.
Many women still wear their day-to-day bras for physical activity. These bras do not offer the support needed to protect women from discomfort and the long term effects of boob-bounce. There are also sports bra manufacturers that put style over function. However I would argue that any support a sports bra can give is far better than the support of a regular bra. In fact, if the cost of a sports bra is a concern, I suggest purchasing a sports bra over a regular bra for everyday use.
Sports bras are available everywhere and in every price range. Kohl’s, Target, sporting goods stores, and department stores carry this workout wear basic. Brands you can trust include Nike, Under Armor, Champion, Victoria’s Secret (not kidding), Title Nine, and Athleta.
Yes, we’ve come a long way baby when it comes to athletics for women, but we have a long way to go. While we are slowly gaining ground in athletics, let’s protect the ta-ta’s. Here are a few simple tips.
- Buy a sports bra.
- Perform monthly breast exams. Perhaps your partner notices changes, too?
- Get your annual mammogram as directed by your healthcare provider. It’s often provided for little cost.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a nutritious diet.
- Limit alcohol and sugar intake. (I’m working on this one myself!)
- Take your daughter shopping for a great sports bra. If she is not inclined to participate in sports, this may inspire her!
What physical challenge have you set for yourself this year? Celebrate the challenge by treating yourself to a new, fun sports bra!