Running is a popular and accessible form of exercise that has numerous health benefits.
To get the most out of running, it’s important to have the right gear, including a good pair of shoes and a well-designed sports bra.
For women, in particular, a sports bra can help prevent exercise-induced breast pain, which can be a significant barrier to staying active. Up to 72% of women experience breast pain while running.
Research has shown that wearing a sports bra can not only reduce breast movement but also improve running performance.
Greater breast support has been linked to lower oxygen consumption and a better range of motion. However, the biomechanics underlying these benefits are not well understood.
To investigate this further, researchers at the Breast Biomechanics Research Center at the University of Memphis conducted a study to examine the effect of a good sports bra on running biomechanics.
Their findings were published in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living.
The researchers looked at the influence of breast support on knee joint stiffness during treadmill running.
Knee joint stiffness is a biomechanical measure that indicates how resistant the knee joint is to move when force is applied.
Knee joint stiffness has been associated with lower oxygen consumption, improved running performance, and reduced risk of running-related injury.
The study involved 12 recreational runners, aged between 18 and 35 years, who were professionally fitted with two different sports bras: a high-support bra and a low-support bra.
For the control condition, the participants were asked to perform the experiment bare-chested.
Each participant then performed three-minute running bouts in each of the three randomized breast support conditions (high, low, bare/control).
The researchers used a 10-camera motion capture system and an instrumented treadmill to collect the data.
The movements of the participants were tracked using individual retroreflective markers fitted on different parts of their bodies.
The researchers used Visual3D to calculate knee joint excursions, while custom software was used to calculate knee joint stiffness and breast displacements during the stance phase of running in each experimental condition.
The experiment showed that increased levels of breast support were associated with greater knee joint stiffness due to smaller joint excursions.
Compared to the control condition, the low and high support conditions were associated with 2% and 5% increases in knee joint stiffness, respectively.
Overall, taking into account these results and results from previous research by Powell and Fong, a high-support sports bra can improve a female’s running performance by 7%.
The study highlights the importance of good breast support during exercise and suggests that sports bras should be considered not only as apparel but also as sports equipment that can both improve performance and reduce the risk of injury, playing a role in women’s health.
How to improve running performance
Improving running performance involves a combination of factors, including physical fitness, training, and proper equipment. Here are some tips for improving running performance:
Build your physical fitness: Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise, such as running or cycling, to improve your cardiovascular endurance. Incorporate strength training exercises to build muscular endurance and improve your overall strength.
Train smart: Follow a training program that gradually increases in intensity and duration to avoid injury and overtraining. Include a mix of short and long runs, speed work, and cross-training activities to challenge your body in different ways.
Fuel your body properly: Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to fuel your runs and support muscle recovery. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your runs.
Wear proper running gear: Invest in a good pair of running shoes that fit well and provide proper support for your feet. For women, a well-designed sports bra is also important to reduce breast pain and improve running performance.
Focus on form: Good running form can help you run more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury. Focus on maintaining good posture, landing midfoot, and keeping your arms and hands relaxed.
Get enough rest: Allow your body time to rest and recover between runs to prevent overuse injuries and improve performance. Get plenty of sleep, and listen to your body if you experience any pain or discomfort.
By incorporating these tips into your running routine, you can improve your performance and enjoy the many benefits of running.
Remember to set realistic goals and be patient with yourself, as progress takes time and consistency.
If you care about exercise, please read studies about exercise that could reduce belly fat in senior men, and scientists find drug that mimics benefits of exercise on muscle and bone.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about unhealthy habits that may increase high blood pressure risk, and results showing new 5-minute exercise may lower blood pressure effectively.
The study was published in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living.
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