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Wearing a proper-fitting sports bra when running can reduce the risk of chest soreness.
Chris Clinton/Photodisc/Getty Images
The act of running alone can rarely lead to strained pectoral muscles. Even with horrible form, you would be hard pressed to affect your chest to the point of pulling or straining your pecs. However, women who run may experience pain in their chest or pectoral muscles when failing to wear a proper-fitting bra that adequately supports the breasts.
Too Much Movement
When women run, their breasts move by bouncing up, down, side-to-side, and in and out. This is a truth for active women regardless of breast size. When the breasts are not properly supported, an A cup can bounce around about an inch-and-a-half in all directions, while a D cup can move two to three inches when running. This repetitive bouncing can strain the Cooper's ligament in the chest and even the pectoral muscles to cause a condition known as Jogger's Breast. Furthermore, when the breasts are unsupported during exercise, the shoulders have to work harder to support them, which can lead to neck and back pain as well as strains.
Understanding Strains and Jogger's Breast
When you strain your pectoral muscles, or any muscle for that matter, you cause microtears in the muscle fibers. While these microtears are not dangerous, they can be painful and make your muscles feel sore when you move them. Repeatedly running without wearing a supportive bra can cause a repetitive strain injury to your chest muscles and a repetitive trauma injury to the Cooper's ligament, which can cause it to permanently stretch and result in droopy breasts.
The Road to Recovery
You'll know if you've actually strained your pectoral muscle if you have pain in your chest, swelling, loss of strength in the muscles when lifting or trouble moving your arms across your chest. To treat a pectoral strain, apply ice to the muscle for 15 to 20 minute intervals, three to four times a day for the first two to three days after the injury occurs. In addition, reduce activity that requires the use of your pecs and take pain medication that also reduces inflammation, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen or naproxen.
Preventing Painful Pecs
To prevent breast soreness and pectoral strain from running, you need to wear a supportive sports bra. A good-fitting sports bra can reduce movement over 50 percent. The sports bra should fit snugly and hold the breasts in place. There are many sports bra designs to choose from, so it is important to select the type that best supports your body type. Compression sports bras work better for smaller cup sizes, while encapsulated bras with individual cups are better for larger cup sizes. Racerback straps hold the breasts closer to your body and provide good support; however, wider straps distribute the weight of the breasts better, so they are ideal for larger cup sizes. Sports bras with back clasps allow you to adjust the band size and give you more support regardless of cup size. If you don't know what size you are, you can go to an expert fitter at many department stores to get assistance.