Sports bras and healthy boobs?
December 25, 2011 11:47 PM   Subscribe

Boob filter: is wearing a sports bra all the time not so good?

This feels like a stupid question, but I'm finding conflicting answers from Google.

I'm fairly small busted - either A/B cup depending on the brand and camisole-style mesh-like sports bras are the most comfortable things for daily wear. Are mildly compressive (slight flattening but nothing really mashy) sports bras going to do terrible things to my boobs, ligament and lymph-flow wise? I, er, never really thought about it before. Oh, the shame.
posted by zennish to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Anything super-compressive is going to have potential for a problem (I'm thinking particularly of anything with elastic that is tight enough to cut in to the skin). But slight flattening doesn't seem like a big deal. It's soft tissue, it can handle a little compression. If you were binding your breasts down to the extent that it was painful, I'd have a different answer.

I would bet that it hasn't really been studied, though. On the one hand, this means that no one has happened upon any serious problems that are common to sports-bra wearers; on the other hand it means that no one has really looked for them.
posted by Lady Li at 1:15 AM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: I've been doing this for, well, 22 years now. I'm healthy! I have bigger problems when trying to wear regular bras, which I can never find in my size (really, I've even tried 38AAA yes I meant to type three As :o) ), and which cut into my skin. Even with extenders. So, slightly flattening sports-like bra it is.

As Lady Li says, so long as it's not cutting into your skin, and I'd say, so long as you don't breathe a huge sigh of relief once you've taken it off (which would signal that something's awry when it's on), you'll be fine.
posted by fraula at 1:28 AM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: There has been only sparse research done, so this is by no means definitive, but it is thought that compression does impede the circulation of lymph. And past that, blocking the lymph from circulating properly is hypothesized to be a factor in the creation of cellulite; wearing even moderately tight underwear is one thing advised in the treatment of cellulite. I have seen improvements but not elimination of cellulite after switching out my underwear for less compressing types for a few years, but honestly this is a "who the hell knows" sort of area. Lymph is a very interesting and not-as-well-studied field.

Anyway, I think it will depend on the sports bra in the end, because regular bras can be pretty killer in the compression/biting-into-you area too. I could see a sports bra being an improvement over a regular bra, even, if it's not tight.
posted by Nattie at 3:23 AM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: Logic and physiology say not so good for the superficial aspect of the lymph system. Can't see any problems for the ligaments. Massage weekly for lymph drainage - check out methods on Google.
posted by nickji at 5:08 AM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: I checked into heavy duty sports bras for riding recently, as well as breast binding. Apparently binding is problematic if overdone and for lengthly periods. There's a goodly amount you can google about binding that discusses the problem of too much compression. Most of the over compression is done by women wanting to have a man's outline, or by women in transition.

With a well fitting sports bra and removing it at night, I doubt that you would have a problem. My girls actually feel better with a bit of compression and no bouncing throughout an active day. (Great, now the whole intarwebb knows about my boobs.)
posted by BlueHorse at 11:18 AM on December 26, 2011

Response by poster: Cool. I had read something about poorly-fitting bras restricting lymph flow and some correlation with breast cancer later in life, etc. Thank you kindly, mefi!
posted by zennish at 8:53 PM on December 27, 2011

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