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Coming Soon: A Better Sports Bra for Female Equestrians
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Coming Soon: A Better Sports Bra for Female Equestrians

Lady equestrians the world over are constantly searching for a bra that provides real and sufficient support -without having to suffer pain and discomfort while they are in the saddle, and this important riding accessory has proved hard to find.

Fortunately, there may be good news for them soon. A UK-based researcher, as part of her thesis for a master’s degree, is carrying out a study about the health challenges faced by female equestrians with a special focus on breast biomechanics. The researcher’s name is Karin Pekarchik, and she is a member of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (or BAE). She is also doing her graduate studies in the Department of Community and Leadership Development. Pekarchik work was spurred by her frustration with using bras that offered inadequate support while doing a sitting trot. This made her start collaborating with researchers who were studying breast biomechanics for female equestrians in the United Kingdom.

Pekarchik is collaborating with Dr. Kimberly Tumlin of the UK College of Public Health, Dr. Jenny Burbage University of Portsmouth Department of Sport and Exercise Science, and Lorna Cameron from Sparsholt College’s Faculty of Equine and Applied Animal Science based in Winchester, United Kingdom. The two research teams are interested in finding out how breast pain/discomfort and poorly-fitting, low-performing bras impinge on the eagerness to ride among ladies.

According to a research paper that was published in the Journal of Sports Sciences in 2016, Cameron and Burbage studied 1,324 women in order to learn how breast size impacted on their levels of discomfort while riding. The survey indicated that forty percent of women riders suffered from breast pain, mostly while riding the sitting trot. Further, this pain discouraged the women from participating in riding activities. The survey underscored some of the problems of breast pain when riding. It also highlighted the required educational measures in regards to the correct bra fit and design.

Pekarchik modified Cameron’s and Burbage’s breast-focused study and incorporated a more generalized outlook in order to establish the health issues relating to female equestrians and the outcomes over various stages of life. Female equestrians can begin riding when they are quite young, and they may carry on riding until they are over 70 years - something that is rare in sports. Whereas a lot of research has been dedicated to the equestrian athlete, very few studies related to the human partner have been carried out. Physical problems (with the exception of bone breakage and concussion, which are tackled in other areas of scientific literature) that can restrict riding are of great concern. So too is the public health angle of creating an education program to assist in the mitigation of breast pain and other health issues that may discourage women from riding.

The research study forms part of a bigger project for Tumlin and Pekarchik. They are also the clients of an engineering design team that intends to use engineering principles over a two-semester course to design a better bra for equestrian sports. Moreover, Pekarchik and Tumlin, in collaboration with BAE engineers Josh Jackson and Joe Dvorak are designing a wireless-based sensor system that will enable Cameron and Burbage to collect data related to breast biomechanics in the field while riding a real horse instead of simulating the riding experience using a mechanical horse.

Image credit: drdavidgeier.com

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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