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Scientist urges compulsory sports bras in schools

Dr Joanna Scurr with Sex Education Show presenter Radha Modgil

Dr Joanna Scurr with Sex Education Show presenter Radha Modgil

A campaign has been launched to educate schoolgirls on breast health and make sports bras a compulsory part of PE kit in all UK schools in the same way that mouthguards are for hockey and rugby.

Young girls of school age often wear everyday bras when exercising which can lead to breast pain, embarrassment, and potential long-term sag.

Scientists at the University of Portsmouth want to educate young women about the importance of breast support and bra selection for everyday use and sport in a new campaign featured this week on Channel 4’s popular “Sex Education Show” (August 2nd).

Lead by Dr Joanna Scurr, a world expert in breast movement, the research group is working with Sweatshop, the UK’s largest independent running retailer.

Dr Scurr said: “Many young women don’t understand the implications of making the wrong choice when it comes to breast support.  Our research demonstrates that the correct bra reduces breast movement and associated pain and may reduce the risk of long term breast sag.  Giving girls the right information at an early age can improve their body image and even encourage greater take-up of sport at school.

“Mouthguards are a compulsory part of PE kit for schoolchildren when playing hockey and rugby and I want to see sports bras for girls become the same.”

Sweatshop women’s wear buyer Amanda Brasher said “Sex education is part of the national curriculum and there appears to be plenty of information on sexual education and health but breast health and the issues associated with this are largely neglected.  We are excited to be working with the University to help de-mystify the subject and encourage girls to feel more confident about their bodies.”

The University of Portsmouth and Sweatshop will deliver educational workshops on breast health to five schools in the UK as a pilot scheme starting in September.

The Portsmouth Research Group in Breast Health recently hosted a workshop for teenage girls taking part in the Channel 4 “Sex Education Show”.  The girls spent the day hearing from Dr Scurr about the importance of breast support and seeing live demonstrates of how breast movement is researched in the laboratory.

The youngsters watched as models with sensors attached to the breast area ran on treadmills placed side by side.  The sensors were linked to computers where the results of the breast moving at different running speeds and even at a walking pace are demonstrated graphically on screen.

Dr Scurr said: “Experiments like these demonstrate clearly that breasts move up and down, and also side to side and in and out. Graphically the picture is shown as a figure-of-eight and crucially, breasts move as much during slow jogging as they do at maximum sprint speed.  This makes wearing a sports bra as important if you jog slowly as if you run at faster speeds”.

She added: “Pain and discomfort is not linked to the size of a woman’s breasts.  An A cup woman could be prevented from doing sport just as much as a woman with FF cup breasts”.

Dr Scurr continued: “The right support can make a difference and our challenge now is to communicate that to young women nationwide, and we hope to achieve that by taking the Breast Health Education Programme into schools”.

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