Warning: I’m off topic today. There’s just something I have to get off my chest. Literally.
Whenever I see a woman vigorously exercising without proper breast support, I cringe. Breast tissue is delicate, and excessive jiggling can cause small tears that allow the breast to sag and droop as we age. Surgically augmenting breasts is not risk-free as there can be all kinds of complications including leaking, infection, movement, and loss of sensation. Luckily, there are some things we can do to help our breasts maintain their perky appearance long past our twenties without resorting to questionable surgical procedures.
Your bra. First and most important is to wear a well-fitting bra in our daily lives. Remember a few years ago when Oprah announced that more than half of American women were wearing incorrectly-fitting bras? And then, during the course of the show, she demonstrated how the simple act of wearing a correctly-fitted bra could visibly drop ten pounds off your appearance. Lose ten pounds just by changing your bra.
I suggest going into a lingerie shop or department store where there is a knowledgeable sales person who can measure you and help you find the styles that fit you best. I’m a fan of Victoria’s Secret for this mission. Plan to spend at least an hour and try on no fewer than a dozen styles in your correct size, now that you know what it is. And don’t be afraid of some padding: bra fabric technology has come a long way in the last twenty years, and today’s bras do more to smooth and shape than to artificially construct. Get the sales person’s opinion as to the fit, and listen to what she tells you. The right bra will lift and support while being comfortable and non-binding. I call this the “$50 boob job”.
Your sports bra. Always wear a true sports bra when you work out. A good sports bra should hold the girls securely no matter how high you jump or how much you bounce on your toes. Let me repeat that: if your breasts move when you jump around, your sports bra is not doing its job. This is true no matter what your cup size.
I had a college roommate who always wore two sports bras, one on top of the other, when she went for a run, and the rest of us would laugh at her. I should have emulated her instead, and in fact, by the time I got into my mid-twenties I was a convert to the layered sports bra approach… until I learned there are now more modern options out there that work much better than the old ones did.
Sports bras do not last forever, and they are not all the same. Check out sports bra specialists like title nine to find the right sports bra support for your delicate tissues. Don’t settle for a flimsy shelf-bra with no support, or like I saw in my Jazzercise class this morning, a string bikini top. Ouch! Even a regular bra is not good enough to hold you securely during a real workout, so make the investment, whether it’s LuluLemon or Old Navy, and wear it. You’ll be glad you did.
Your pecs. Breast tissue hangs from the structure of your pectoral muscles, those same ones that look so good on a guy with a six-pack. Without surgical intervention you can’t change the amount of mammary tissue you were born with, but you can absolutely build up the pectoral muscles underneath so that your breasts will hang on a mannequin instead of a hanger, and look more shapely and perky as a result.
How do you build up those pecs? The easiest way I’ve found is to do push-ups, but if you have a set of hand weights you could also do extended arm lifts, as seen in this video. This exercise can also be effective if done standing up with bent knees and a flat back angled forward. Talk to a knowledgeable personal trainer for more advice on building your pecs, and don’t forget to also work the complimentary back muscles by by bringing your elbows together behind your back, so that you remain balanced and don’t end up with a forward hunch.
Your posture. A major benefit of strengthening your chest and back is that it will help your posture. Breasts just look better on women – and men, too!– who stand up straight. The benefits of better posture are too many for this post, but include better overall health, more mental alertness, better back health and less back pain.
Self exam. This goes without saying. Look for lumps regularly.
So skip breast enhancement surgery and nurture your breasts to be the best they can be instead!