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Supporting female performance in sport and fitness
Supporting female performance in sport and fitness

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2 Breast anatomy and natural support

To further your understanding of the issues surrounding breast health and breast pain it is important to first become familiar with the anatomy of the breast (see Figure 1). Essentially the breast is a mass made up mostly of fatty tissue, with some connective tissue that provides it with a limited support from the inside. This connective tissue is called the Coopers ligaments, although ‘ligaments’ is a very a misleading label. Elsewhere in the body, ligaments attach bone to bone, however Coopers ligaments are not ‘real’ ligaments, but connective tissue that provides some support for the breast mass (Page and Steele, 1999). The third component of the breast is glands, and this is the part that has a job to do. This glandular tissue is the milk glands and ducts which are used for breastfeeding.

The breast is held in place on the chest wall by the skin. Breast sag happens when the skin supporting the breast tissue stretches. This can happen as a result of age, as our skin becomes less elastic, and also as a result of how much the breast moves.

The image shows the anatomy of a breast. The breast is shown sitting on the chest muscle and the fatty tissue, Cooper’s ligament and skin are indicated.
Figure 1 Anatomy of the breast.