Sports Bra Pressure: Effect on Core Body Temperature and Comfort Sensation
Authors: Qi Long Liu, Kit Lun Yick, Kam Ching Chan, Sin Tung Wong, Sun Pui Ng
Abstract: Background: Sports bras are engineer designed to enhance sports performance, which means that they need to provide an excellent fit, and offer adequate support and protection of the breasts to optimize their functionality. To effectively reduce breast motion during different intensity levels of exercise, the materials of sports bras are generally rigid which exert compressive forces onto the soft tissues of the breasts. However, these materials may still restrict air flow and inhibit body heat loss, while the pressure from the bra exerted onto the skin may also increases physiological strain and wear discomfort. This excessively high exerted pressure is known to produce an inhibitory effect on the sweating rate and associated with a significant rise in the axillary and core temperatures. This preliminary study therefore investigates the influence of bra pressure on the upper body temperature and thermal comfort following a short duration of treadmill running. Objective: The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of increased bra pressure on thermal response following exercise. The findings provide bra designers with insight into bra pressure and related bra design features necessary for optimal wear comfort during physical activities. Methods: A total of 12 young women have participated in this study to don a changeable sports bra that allows adjustment of tension or replacement of the bra components. The skin and body core temperatures as well as heart rate for four bra conditions during treadmill running for 15 minutes at 8 km/h are recorded by using temperature and heart rate sensors. The subjectively perceived thermal and pressure comfort are evaluated by using a visual analog scale with ratings of 1 to 10.Results: Following exercise, there is no change in core temperature for all of the bra conditions studied. Even though the body core temperature may increase due to the higher rate of heat production with muscular work done during treadmill running, the increase in heat dissipation tends to balance the increase in rate of metabolic heat production to maintain a stable core temperature. After a short duration of treadmill running, the change in skin temperature ranges from 0.22oC to 3.56oC amongst the 4 bra conditions. The shoulder strap area shows a slight change in skin temperature during exercise, and the participants are particularly sensitive to the increased pressure in this area, thus adversely affecting their ratings of the thermal and pressure comfort. Conclusion: In this study, the increased bra pressure does not show significant change in core temperature and heart rate during short duration exercise. Even though the results are not statistically significant, the shoulder strap pressure is found to be related to the changes in skin temperature and subjective ratings of thermal and pressure comfort.
Keywords: core body temperature, sports bra, pressure, thermal comfort
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