Women across the globe will be able to find the perfect sports bra for themselves thanks to a world-first app developed at the University of Wollongong.
The Sports Bra app, launched by Vice-Chancellor Paul Wellings yesterday, draws from 15 years of research by the team at Breast Research Australia (BRA), based in UOW’s Biomechanics Research Laboratory.
It gives simple, step-by-step instructions - with photographs and videos - to help women not only choose the best sports bra, but to put it on properly and check how supportive it is.
BRA researchers Dr Deirdre McGhee and Professor Julie Steele said the ultimate goal of the app was to educate and empower women to participate in exercise.
‘‘The app is suitable for any woman who wants to wear a bra for any kind of physical activity,’’ Dr McGhee said.
‘‘It’s important as our research shows us that Australian women are very poor at both breast support and bra fit.
‘‘In fact 85 per cent of women are wearing the wrong size bra - education is an effective solution and so we have developed this electronic version to get to as many women as possible.’’
Getting the best-fitting bra has a number of physical - and pyschological - benefits according to Dr McGhee, who is also a sports physiotherapist.
‘‘Women are uncomfortable and often embarrassed by the appearance of excessive breast movement, and this is deterring them from physical activity,’’ she said.
‘‘Insufficient support, particularly for large breasts, can cause women to have poor posture, headaches, neck pain, back pain and nerve pain down their arms.
‘‘It can get so severe that women resort to breast reduction surgery.’’
Those with smaller breasts also need to ensure they have the right fit.
‘‘Even if you are small-breasted, if you are doing hours of sport a week that involves running or jumping, it’s important to realise how many times your breasts bounce,’’ Dr McGhee said.
‘‘Basically every time your heel hits the ground your breasts bounce so if you go for a half-hour jog, at around 8-9km/h, than your breasts will bounce about 9000 times.’’
Professor Wellings praised the team at BRA for putting their research into action.
‘‘More than a decade’s worth of high quality research is being translated into this app,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s the first app of its kind that is evidence-based in terms of breast support and bra fit, that isn’t tied to a particular commercial product or brand - it’s solely about the user.’’
Dr McGhee said the app featured international sizing options so could be used by women anywhere, or by those doing online shopping.
The Sports Bra app, which has a green bra icon, is available for download on iTunes while an Android version will be released in a few weeks.