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

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7 Case study: Equestrian sports

You want the whole focus to be on you and your horse. Constantly worrying that your bra straps are falling down is not helpful. I don’t think young girls are aware of breast issues. It could be very, very bad for me if I did ride in a normal bra and I wasn’t aware of that as a young girl.

(Natasha Baker, Paralympic equestrian rider)

Different activities will require different support for the breast and horse riding is an energetic and dynamic activity that can cause excessive breast movement. Despite this, research into breast support and horse riding by Burbage and Cameron (2017) reported that only 35% of women regularly ride in a sports bra. The study also indicated that riders with larger breasts experienced greater breast pain, as did those with higher body mass. Overall, 21% of riders said that breast issues negatively impacted on their performance. One of the aims of this course is to build awareness and education of these issues as a positive step to help women find effective breast support solutions.

Activity 5 Selecting a sports specific sports bra

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Listen to another section of the podcast ‘Bounce’ where the panel discuss breast health and horse riding with Natasha Baker, a paralympic equestrian rider. Then read the information booklet ‘The Horse Rider’s Guide to Bras’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and consider the benefits of wearing a sports bra for women when riding.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: boc_sfps_1_session5_activity5.mp3
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Wearing a sports bra appropriate for riding is crucial due to the high impact nature of the activity, not only to maintain breast health but also to aid performance. As Natasha described, a poorly fitted sports bra can remove the focus from competition and the task at hand, which can negatively impact on performance. When competing it is important not to have any external distractions such as falling bra straps or breast movement or pain. Comfort is also key in a sports bra, as when comfortable you can focus purely on performance. A correctly fitting sports bra can also aid posture which is another important factor when riding.