A winning prescription: custom sports bras
August 5, 2022 11:19 AM   Subscribe

It may go down as one of the most iconic images in English sporting history: Chloe Kelly whirling her England shirt above her head as she sprints across the pitch in a white Nike sports bra. But if those cups could talk, they might claim a share of the Lionesses’ victory for themselves. Ahead of the Euros, breast biomechanics experts provided personalised bra prescriptions to the England players to improve their comfort and ensure they were getting the right support. According to their latest data, the bras may have boosted the players’ athletic performances as well. Linda Geddes writes about the custom sport bras prescribed to the Euro 2022-winning English soccer team.
posted by Bella Donna (35 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Faaaaaaascinating.

… Running in a poorly supportive bra was also found to shorten women’s strides by up to 4cm, which could add up to an extra mile over the length of a marathon.

“Some of our research has also shown reductions in muscle activity in the upper body as a result of wearing a well-fitting bra, which means you could potentially go for a bit longer in your training session before getting fatigued
,”

As parent of someone who can really benefit from these developments, this makes me happy.

Guarantee in no time at all we’ll see sports bras for us men.

And for our guts.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 11:51 AM on August 5 [7 favorites]


armoir, athletic supporters for men have been a thing since the 19th century! According to wiki, the word "jock" comes from "bicycle jockey" which is a thing I didn't know until just now.
posted by klanawa at 12:04 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Guarantee in no time at all we’ll see sports bras for us men.

Bros are a thing, dude.
posted by y2karl at 12:05 PM on August 5


I watched the final match between England and Germany and I don’t like soccer much. But it turns out that I like watching women play soccer. I liked that The women got pretty physical and the referee let them get pretty physical. I liked watching women with strong bodies do physical things. Those are things I can’t do, but I’m OK with that. It was thrilling to me to see a field full of strong female athletes playing a team sport. I am not a sports fan but I am a feminist and I just thought it was a beautiful thing to watch.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:18 PM on August 5 [24 favorites]


That was not very articulate but a. I am on my phone and B. It is Friday night where I am And it has been a long week.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:20 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one weirded out by the author's use of "prescribed"? In the States, that's mainly used to refer to pharmaceuticals.

Custom equipment isn't a new concept for athletes, but it may unfortunately be novel for anything regarding women (or their specific body parts).
posted by meowzilla at 12:24 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one weirded out by the author's use of "prescribed"? In the States, that's mainly used to refer to pharmaceuticals.

Not really. I've had prescriptions for a walking boot when my leg was in a cast, and for a wheelchair. You can get a medical prescription for just about any medical device or item that insurance will pay for. Not exactly how that applies to sports but it's not uncommon.
posted by Billiken at 12:40 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]


Good idea! if I can use my HSA dollars for one of these? Bras are expensive!
posted by 7ajax7 at 12:53 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]


My nan used to get prescribed Mackeson's stout, "for the iron". I bet half the Brits on here have a similar story.
posted by biffa at 12:56 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


I would love to have someone prescribe me a sports bra! I have tried so many, and none of them have been exactly right. I even talked to someone who works in a bra store, but none of her suggestions were supportive enough for me for running. I think most people looking for sports bras are doing lower impact sports? The problem is that even at their best, fitting is only focused on band and cup sizes, and those really are not enough information. People with identical band and cup sizes can have very differently shaped breasts and depending on their exercise, very different support needs. Of all the ones I own, the She-Fit is the one that works best for me for running.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:02 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


“Some of our research has also shown reductions in muscle activity in the upper body as a result of wearing a well-fitting bra, which means you could potentially go for a bit longer in your training session before getting fatigued,”

Training bra is about to get a new definition.
posted by explosion at 1:03 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


There's a running shoe store in Davis that I'm still boycotting decades later because they told a friend of mine looking for sports bras that "women with breasts that big don't run".

I was not surprised that custom sports bras improved performance, but I am surprised at how much they appear to.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:04 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


I just discovered that the She-Fit Ultimate Sports Bra in Victorious lavender is on sale. The pastel lime is even more on sale, but they are out of many sizes. Pardon me while I go stock up, caring not at all what weird colors they are.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:21 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Bros are a thing, dude.

Mansier!

posted by AndrewInDC at 1:53 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Also, the 2022 Euro Cup sports bra moment likely never would have happened without the 1999 Women's World Cup sports bra moment.

The team remembers 20 years later
posted by hydropsyche at 1:53 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]


I just can't get over the idea that the world is so repeatedly very aghast at seeing a woman in a sports bra ....

.... when at the same time, sports regulatory bodies force women to wear bikinis in competition.

It's almost like the world cannot decide whether women are Madonnas or whores, and wants to punish us for being both. At the same time.
posted by Dashy at 2:07 PM on August 5 [20 favorites]


Were people aghast?
posted by biffa at 2:35 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I was surprised. You get a yellow card if you take your shirt off.
posted by plonkee at 2:39 PM on August 5


I have a big bust and was definitely into my thirties before I met a sports bra that truly fit and supported me rather than just smashed my boobs into my rib cage. A lot of people truly do not understand the athletic fortitude it requires to take one of those bras off your sweat drenched body after a vigorous workout - there were times I simply did not have the energy to de-bra until after I took a long rest.

Anyway. I wouldn’t mind a personal bra prescription. I do think I’ll try a she-fit for my next one (which I am way overdue for). I’d certainly accept improvement in my performance but I’m just happy with “it fits.”
posted by obfuscation at 2:52 PM on August 5 [6 favorites]


I got exercise on prescription.

It was a scheme run between the local council and the primary healthcare service whereby I got a couple of sessions with a fitness coach to set me up with a programme and then my sessions were half the usual price for the gym. All was going really well until the Great Disruption, when everything closed.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 3:00 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


Drat -- the team had custom fittings by experts, not custom bras. Per the article: “They were off-the-shelf bras, but we found that the players really appreciated information on how to fit them, what styles would work for them best. There are some really good products out there that can work for elite athletes, but it’s about helping them navigate through the marketplace.” -- professor of biomechanics, and project leader, Joanna Wakefield-Scurr.

Interview with Wakefield-Scurr, head of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth.
2021: Multi-study randomised controlled trial to develop, implement and evaluate bra prescription to reduce breast pain and improve quality of life
2022: The effect of washing and wearing on sports bra function ["Sports bra support reduced after 25 washes; this was compounded by wear."]
2022: A multi-phase intervention study of sports bra prescription for elite UK female athletes preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:32 PM on August 5 [7 favorites]


I was surprised. You get a yellow card if you take your shirt off.

Yes, that's standard. It's an annoying rule that is really only there to protect the interest of the shirt sponsors in the professional game.
posted by vincebowdren at 3:36 PM on August 5


I was surprised. You get a yellow card if you take your shirt off.

I'm pretty sure Chloe Kelly - having just scored the winning goal in extra time, winning the Euros for England for the very first time* - really didn't give a shit at that precise moment! And good on her, and the rest of the team. They were all amazing against a really strong German team**, and it was mesmerising to watch.

* best the men have achieved is finalists in 2020.
** Germany's men have won 3 times, the women 8! times.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 5:20 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


actually reading the article to the bottom I was super disappointed:

"They were off-the-shelf bras, but we found that the players really appreciated information on how to fit them"

So they got custom fittings, not bespoke bras, and this is news that being carefully fitted by a professional improves the performance of off the shelf athletic wear? I clicked expecting something like "we took laser assisted 547-point measurements from every athlete and then 3D printed a individual foam mold for each bra" and wow, not it. Once again I am asking, where is my machine where I put in very detailed measurements and get out a completely custom garment, even if the pattern/material/style is mass marketed and scaled (I only know of this being done for women's jeans and they aren't modifiable in every dimension)? Where is my jetpack?!
posted by slow graffiti at 5:29 PM on August 5 [18 favorites]


“It's an annoying rule that is really only there to protect the interest of the shirt sponsors in the professional game.”

It’s definitely not my favourite rule in football, but at the same time I don’t think it’s particularly there to preserve the integrity of shirt sponsors, especially in international matches where there is no shirt sponsor. (Crowd incitement, time wasting, cultural sensibilities, avoiding political slogans, probably in that rough order)
posted by Hartster at 6:14 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much more active teen me would have been with a more supportive bra. I'm more active now with a bigger cup size and better bras.

Still, I'm yet to see a sports bra in the wild for someone like me - relatively small band, large cup.
posted by freethefeet at 8:48 PM on August 5


Meanwhile, the army is developing the tactical bra. No word if there are plans for a strategic one.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:50 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Chloe Kelly - having just scored the winning goal in extra time, winning the Euros for England for the very first time* - really didn't give a shit at that precise moment!

If you watch the whole sequence, she starts to take her shirt off, then stops, looks back at the referee for several seconds to make sure the goal will stand, and then continues de-shirting, presumably so she doesn't get a yellow card without getting a goal as well. There was still 10 minutes left to play in the game.

Also: Lucy Ward, Pure joy and a sports bra: the photo that encapsulates England Women’s Euros win.
posted by Rumple at 11:11 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Bella Donna, may I interest you in the Australian Football League (AFL) women's comp, the most athletic women's football of all.
posted by Thella at 12:52 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I'm old enough to remember people make either lewd comments about Brandi Chastain or sniffling about how inappropriate it is to take your shirt off in front of children. We were lead to believe it was another reason why hedonistic European soccer had no place in American sports culture. It is best not to think about the issues Amerian sports had, but at least they didn't have men and women taking their shirts off!
posted by geoff. at 3:18 AM on August 6


freethefeet: Small band with large cup is my bra situation as well. It definitely feels like most bra makers just don't think bodies like ours exist. I can't just go into a regular store and buy a regular bra in my size. The She-Fit helps a lot because they have a lot of different sizes, and then the bras themselves are way more adjustable than any others I've ever had. (I know it sounds like I work for them. I do not.)
posted by hydropsyche at 5:00 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I watched the final match between England and Germany and I don’t like soccer much. But it turns out that I like watching women play soccer...I am not a sports fan but I am a feminist and I just thought it was a beautiful thing to watch.

I'm a sports fan, a casual soccer fan, and a feminist dad. I prefer watching women playing soccer over the men because there's excellent team play instead of showboating. I show my daughter (10, soccer and softball player) women's soccer highlights to point out how the team working together sets up the goals.

My daughter was alarmed and a little embarrassed when Chloe Kelly took her shirt off. I explained that she was excited and celebrating, and told her about what a powerful moment it was for women when Brandi Chastain did it.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:00 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


freethefeet and hydropsyche: Sometime this month (date tbc) I'm having the breast reduction I've been awaiting for 15 years - but before I get it, let me just pass on Shock Absorber. I've been wearing their bras to reduce my 34GG boobs to something resembling a C-cup for the last 5 years. They might only have UK availability, but it's well worth seeing if they'll ship elsewhere. I wear their D+ Max Support bra for everyday wear, but have found the slightly more uniboob-ising Ultimate Run Bra is good for the gym.
posted by pjen at 3:42 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Thanks! It looks like their US distribution is kind of limited, but I'll definitely keep an eye on them. Great name!
posted by hydropsyche at 4:55 PM on August 9


Apologies to all for misreading the article! I skimmed it so fast, I missed that the magic ingredient was custom fittings not custom bras. To be fair, the misleading headline (Secret support: did prescription bras help Lionesses to Euro 2022 glory?) did not exactly help. Sorry!
posted by Bella Donna at 6:54 AM on August 10


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