This study investigated the effect of sports bra type (encapsulation versus compression) and gait speed on perceptions of breast discomfort, bra discomfort and breast movement reported by Chinese women. Visual analogue scales were used to evaluate breast discomfort, bra component discomfort and perceived breast movement of 21 Chinese participants when they wore an encapsulation or a compression sports bra, while static and while exercising at three different gait speeds. Participants perceived less breast discomfort and breast movement when wearing a compression bra compared to an encapsulation bra at a high gait speed, suggesting that compression bras are likely to provide the most effective support for Chinese women. However, significantly higher bra discomfort was perceived in the compression bra compared to the encapsulation bra when static and at the lower gait speed, implying that ways to modify the design of sports bras, particularly the straps, should be investigated to provide adequate and comfortable breast support.
Practitioner summary: The compression sports bra provided more comfortable support than the encapsulation sports bra for these Chinese women when running on a treadmill. However, these women perceived higher bra discomfort when wearing the compression bra when stationary. Further research is needed to modify the design of sports bras, particularly the straps, to provide adequate and comfortable breast support.
Keywords: bra discomfort; breast discomfort; gait speed; perceived breast movement; sports bras.