Do current sports brassiere designs impede respiratory function?
PURPOSE: Although sports brassieres are more effective in limiting breast motion and related breast pain when compared with standard fashion brassieres, some females do not wear sports brassieres during physical activity, as they perceive them to be too tight around the torso, possibly impeding their performance during physical activity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether breast hypertrophy, breast momentum, and/or wearing a sports brassiere impeded respiratory function at rest and during physical activity. METHODS: Twenty-two active women completed standard resting spirometry maneuvers while not wearing a brassiere. All subjects then completed maximal cycle ergometer testing in two breast support conditions (sports brassiere and no brassiere (NB)), followed by submaximal treadmill exercise tests under three breast support conditions (sports brassiere, no brassiere and fashion brassiere) while standard spirometry, brassiere pressure and comfort were measured. RESULTS: The sports brassiere imparted significantly more pressure on smaller breasted females' torsos when compared with the fashion brassiere (0.861 +/- 0.247 and 0.672 +/- 0.254 N.cm(-2), respectively), although this increased pressure did not appear to significantly affect measured lung volumes or brassiere comfort scores. Brassiere size affected maximal exercise ability (relative VO(2peak): smaller breasted NB: 49.84 +/- 6.15 mL.kg(-1).min(-1); larger breasted NB: 40.76 +/- 4.47 mL.kg(-1).min(-1)) as well as some temporal measures of resting and submaximal respiration. However, no significant difference was found between the no brassiere and brassiere conditions in regards to measured lung volumes. CONCLUSIONS: As no significant restriction to exercise performance or respiratory mechanics was found when subjects wore sports brassieres, it was concluded that active females should wear a sports brassiere during physical activity to reduce breast motion and related breast pain.