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Adolescent Girls Rejecting Sport Due to Breast Discomfort

Almost 9 out of every 10 girls aged 13-14 are failing to meet the recommended amount of exercise, according to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, and for many of them the reason boils down to one easily-solvable problem – their bra.

A study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health found that almost half of 11-18 year old girls – and almost two-thirds of those who wore a D+ cup size – said that their breasts had some sort of impact on their participation in sport and exercise. For many, it’s breast bounce that most puts them off. It can be embarrassing, and it can be painful, but it can also be avoided!

No more sitting on the side lines

Perhaps more than ever before, the opportunities for adolescent girls to get involved with sports are in abundance. Thanks to the emerging popularity of AFLW and womens rugby, the sporting world is fast becoming a place for young women to grow their strength and express their individuality. It’s time to get our girls off the sidelines and onto the playing field – regardless of whether it’s a football field or a yoga mat!

What difference will a sports bra make?

A good sports bra provides significantly more support than a non-sports one, minimising how much the breasts are able to move during exercise. By anchoring the breasts firmly in place, the sports bra reduces strain on the breast ligaments and so cuts down on discomfort.

Ideally, a sports bra should be worn every time you exercise – and it’s especially important for those with a full bust, which requires enhanced support. 15% of the girls surveyed were worried that their breasts were simply too big for them to be able to join in, but with a well-fitting sports bra, anyone should be able to feel comfortable playing sports.

“The confidence of having good support has allowed me to really step up my training for Nepal and as a result, means I have become fitter and gone down a back size…  This means I’m super confident and contained,” says 14 year old Bella, after a sports bra fitting made all the difference to her confidence in her preparations for a school trip to Nepal (read more about it here).

It seems though that many teens simply aren’t aware of what a huge difference a sports bra can make – despite 96% of those surveyed saying that they wore regular bras, over half of them had never even worn a sports bra and a mere 10% always wore one to exercise!

“We have known this for many years because we are witness to it daily in our fitting rooms,” says Maxine Windram, owner of Brava, “Young women are not comfortable with their shape, they have been teased at school and because of their fuller bust they can’t find bras to fit them in the stores their friends shop at. As a bra fitter and owner of Brava, four specialty D+ lingerie stores, we witness daily the angst adolescent girls experience about their breasts. Unfortunately breasts and bras are not spoken about in school and often parents are not educated themselves or feel uneasy about having this conversation with their daughters.”

So how do you go about helping your teen choose a good sports bra?

If possible, it’s a good idea to head to a store (find your closest Brava store here) where they can be tried on, because getting the fit spot-on is key. Too tight and it can rub, too loose and the bra will be rendered less effective. Encourage your teen to jog on the spot or jump around a bit in the changing room or visit Brava Melbourne to test your sports bra on our in-store treadmill. Yes it sounds silly, but it’s the best way to make sure the bra is actually going to do its job!

Look for a sports bra with thick straps that won’t dig into the shoulders, and a wide underband that fits snugly for lots of support. Full-busted teens may find that a racer-back style holds their breasts in place the best. It doesn’t hurt to let them pick out a sports bra they like the look of too – going back to the survey, 38% of girls reported feeling embarrassed about getting changed for sport in front of their peers, so a stylish design can help to alleviate that.

A sports bra may set you back more than an everyday bra would, but you get what you pay for. A regular bra simply isn’t designed for anything high-impact, and won’t hold the breasts in place in the same way. We all know how crucial regular exercise is to a person’s health, so if your teen is one of the majority whose sport participation is affected by their breasts, think of a high-quality sports bra as an investment not just in their wardrobe but in their physical well-being too. It will be money very well spent.

Let’s help our teenage girls choose a good sports bra, aim high and achieve their sporting dreams.

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