All School Girls Should Have Sports Bras

A scientist is calling for sports bras to be a compulsory part of PE kit in all UK schools to prevent long-term problems.

Dr Joanna Scurr, an expert in breast movement at the University of Portsmouth, said that young girls often wear normal bras for exercising which can lead to ''breast pain, embarrassment and potential long-term sag''.

Now in a campaign featured on Channel 4's Sex Education Show tonight, Dr Scurr is advising that sports bras become a mandatory piece of kit in the same way mouthguards are for hockey and rugby.

She said:

 ''Many young women don't understand the implications of making the wrong choice when it comes to breast support.

''Our research demonstrates that the correct bra reduces breast movement and associated pain and may reduce the risk of long-term breast sag.

''Giving girls the right information at an early age can improve their body image and even encourage greater take-up of sport at school.

''Mouthguards are a compulsory part of PE kit for schoolchildren when playing hockey and rugby and I want to see sports bras for girls become the same.''

Dr Scurr's research into the effect of sport on breast health is being run in conjunction with Sweatshop, the UK's largest independent running retailer.

Sweatshop women's wear buyer Amanda Brasher said:

''Sex education is part of the national curriculum and there appears to be plenty of information on sexual education and health but breast health and the issues associated with this are largely neglected.

''We are excited to be working with the university to help de-mystify the subject and encourage girls to feel more confident about their bodies.''

The University of Portsmouth and Sweatshop will deliver educational workshops on breast health to five schools in the UK as a pilot scheme starting in September.

The researchers recently hosted a workshop for teenage girls taking part in the television programme where they witnessed demonstrations of how breast movement is researched in the laboratory.

The youngsters watched as models with sensors attached to the breast area ran on treadmills placed side by side.

Dr Scurr said:

''Experiments like these demonstrate clearly that breasts move up and down, and also side to side and in and out.

''Graphically the picture is shown as a figure-of-eight and crucially, breasts move as much during slow jogging as they do at maximum sprint speed.

''This makes wearing a sports bra as important if you jog slowly as if you run at faster speeds.

''Pain and discomfort is not linked to the size of a woman's breasts.

''An A-cup woman could be prevented from doing sport just as much as a woman with FF-cup breasts.

''The right support can make a difference and our challenge now is to communicate that to young women nationwide and we hope to achieve that by taking the Breast Health Education Programme into schools.''