We love to share our favorite running and fitness tips with our patients, but sometimes there are useful tips that women could use that no talks about! Today’s tip is one of those. Running with large breasts. As if running weren’t challenging enough, large breasts can make it a full-on contact sport.
Thumping against your chest, weighing you down, running with large breasts can be more than embarrassing. It’s painful- and can prove detrimental to running performance, says sports physiotherapist Deirdre McGhee, Ph.D.
Here, we explore the top three complaints of large-breasted runners everywhere- as well as how to ease the pain with some simple tricks and bra-fit guidelines.
1. Back Pain
A pair of natural D-cup breasts weigh in at 15 to 23. That’s more than enough to pull your trunk forward, force you into a hunched-over running posture, decrease your stride’s efficiency, and up your risk of injury, McGhee says.
If you haven’t noticed, pretty much the only thing keeping your breasts up during a run is your bra’s shoulder straps. which take a lot of weight. When straps are thin, the pressure can be so great they not only leave dents in your shoulders but hit the brachial plexus nerve group, causing numbness in the pinky fingers.
While you can’t reduce your breasts’ weight without a breast reduction, you can improve your body’s ability to remain erect.
Upper and lower back exercises (think: pull-down and row variations) can help prevent the back fatigue and poor posture that can set in with longer running durations. Exercising your core, which includes your lower and middle back, can help stabilize your spine. Focus on functional core strengthening exercises that work multiple muscles through several planes of motion, she says. Examples include the forearm plank with alternating leg raises, prone plank on a stability ball, Superman, bird-dog, side plank, and abdominal twists.
2. The Bounce Factor
How far your breasts bounce depends almost entirely on breast size and elasticity of the skin covering your breasts. However, skin tends to lose its elasticity with age and “excessive breast bouncing.” So, the more your breasts bounce, the more they will bounce during future runs.
How much do breasts bounce? Measuring the bounce of both bare and bra-covered breasts during treadmill workouts, the average 38D moves about five inches from top to bottom during running. Small breasts bounce about three inches, which can still be uncomfortable.
While they can’t completely eliminate bouncing, high-support bras can cut the range of motion in about half. Our office can help your order a high-support bras, or suggest one that may be best for you and your build. The goal is for the breasts to move in unison with your torso and not bounce independently of one another.
3. Rubbed Raw
Finding a sports bra that fits properly to your bust is the first step to prevent chafing. The less your bra moves during your run, the less it will rub. However, the larger your breasts, the more difficult it can become to prevent any movement. We suggest using anti-chafing balms and creams on sensitive areas such as your underarms. We suggest BODYGLIDE for Her.
If your running bra still rubs you raw, apply a thing strip of first-aid tape across the areas where you tend to chafe before starting your run. Since tape can be an irritant, it’s best to try it during a short run before heading out on a five or 10-miler, she says.
Wearing a sports bra that’s built with sweat-wicking materials can prevent skin irritations, which can develop into full-blown chafing.
How to Find Your Best Running Bra
When first purchasing a sports bra, resist the urge to purchase online; go to a retailer to try on styles.
Look for bras with high-support elements such as molded cups, underwires, padded straps, and multiple hooks. We recommend trying on as many bras as possible to find which ones keep your breasts in place without sacrificing too much comfort. If a bra is not comfortable to wear walking and stretching, don’t even think about hitting the road with it!
When trying on sports bras, dont just go by the feel. Look for these markers:
The Band: It should be made of wide elastic material so it can support your breasts without causing back bulges or riding up when you lift your arms. You should fasten the bra on the loosest hook so, as it ages and becomes looser, you can tighten the fit.
The Shoulder Straps: They should be wide and padded so they dont dig into your shoulders.
The Cups: To limit movement, the cups must completely cover your breasts (without leaving any creases or gaps). Keep in mind your running bra cup size may be different from what you wear under your little black dress. That’s OK!
The Underwire: It should sit on your ribs so it doesn’t dig into your breasts or the tissue under your armpits.
The Front Band: The center of the bra should sit on your breastbone, squarely between your breasts.
Meanwhile, if you’ve long since outgrown DD bras, you may need to look for a “crop top” compression bra for some double-bra layering.
We recommend first putting on a high-support bra with structured cups and an underwire and then layering it with a compression bra, you’ll need to find a middle ground too much freedom and too tight.
Take home a few different styles to wear on test runs. If you’re concerned about the cost of buying some bras that will potentially not pan out, ask a sales rep if you can return bras after on or two wears for a full refund or store credit.
After a few runs, chances are you’ll figure out what the brands and styles are that work best for your unique shape. Once you find your can’t-run-without bra, write down its silhouette and style number. It’s the key to being able to buy online- or finding a similar bra should the brand discontinue the style. Either way, it’ll simplify the process for future runs!