Department of Sport and Exercise Science
Research Group in Breast Health
The Research Group in Breast Health is internationally renowned for research on the biomechanics of the breast. The group are responsible for over half of the scientific publications in this area and regularly present work nationally and internationally. The Research Group is well known with millions of media mentions worldwide and commercial collaborations with many of the major lingerie, sports bra and sporting apparel manufacturers around the world.
The Research Group aims to increase scientific knowledge of breast health, and to raise awareness of this important aspect of women’s health.
The Group offer a number of services for potential collaborations;
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The Group’s research spans many areas of breast health including:
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Our novel research focuses on establishing appropriate breast support for varying populations, environments and activities. Our research is at the forefront of methodological developments that enable us to investigate the support provided by different bras, thermal responses to wearing a bra, factors that influence the support requirements throughout a woman’s life and much more. Our research has shown that breast support requirements differ as we went different life stages, such as puberty, pregnancy, illness (breast cancer) and menopause. Understanding breast support preferences and requirements throughout the life cycle is crucial to offer appropriate solutions for women throughout their lives.
We work with many manufacturers to inform the research and development of products with the aim of improving women’s quality of life.
We are actively investigating Breast Health Education for populations ranging from schoolgirls to sports women and many more. In June 2011 the groundbreaking Channel 4 series The Sex Education Show visited the Research Group to film one of our breast health educational workshops with schoolgirls. We thank Remarkable Television, Endemol UK for the use of this section of the programme on our website.
With a large percentage of the population reported to be wearing the wrong size bra, an important area of our research focuses on bra fitting. In a recent study we identified that the traditional bra fitting method does not give the best fit. Instead we advocate a series of ‘Best Fit’ criteria, we believe it is important to education women on best fit, rather than using a tape measure to dictate your bra size.
Our research has identified that we change the way we run depending on the type of bra worn. These results make our research and development work with sports bra manufacturers vital, not only to improve breast support and comfort, but also to ensure that products optimise the way we move.
Our recent research in the area of breast and body size has shown that the relationship between the two is not as clear cut as originally thought. Our study showed that whilst clinicians make recommendations for obese women to lose weight to reduce their breast size, this may not be appropriate. Our study showed that in order to lose the same amount of breast tissue that is removed during surgery (an average of 775 g) a women would have to lose 51 kg, or 70% of her body weight! Our research in this area continues to provide important information on the changing trends in breast size.
Our research has shown that cyclic and non-cyclic breast pain affects half the female population in the UK, negatively impacting on their quality of life. This breast pain is exaggerated by breast movement, although the exact causes are unclear. We are conducting research in this area help broaden our understanding of breast pain and ultimately to help relieve the symptoms associated with this wide spread condition.
The Research Group have state of the art motion capture facilities to investigate the biomechanics of the breast. These cutting edge facilities are spread across two laboratories and include systems that allow us to monitor muscle activity, pressure and force application, mechanical strain, and thermal regulation, whilst simulating daily or sporting activities.
Bra testing services
A collaboration with us gives you access to leading experts in breast biomechanics.
With years of experience investigating the performance of bras through testing on thousands of women, we’ve built a comprehensive and robust database of bra performance that offers an excellent resource for analysis and comparison.
As well as informing product design, we can help you with development, marketing and more through our BRONZE, SILVER and GOLD Bra Testing Packages, and other services.
Using unique scientific methods that we’ve developed and validated, we will help you understand the performance, fit, comfort and consumer appeal of your products – just as we’ve done for most of the world’s leading bra and sports apparel brands in the last decade.
We use the latest motion capture facilities to investigate breast biomechanics. The technology in our dedicated lab includes systems that allow us to simulate all kinds of activities and monitor human movement, muscle activity and force application.
3D scanning to assess bra fit and breast position, and the production of 360 degree views of products tested are just two examples of our comprehensive range of services, which include workshops, testing packages and consultancy.
Our scientific approach
Here’s why you can rely on us to deliver the robust, scientific results you need:
- Strict participant recruitment, including professional bra fitting with trained and highly experienced fitters, and health history assessment
- Data collection and analysis based on rigorous scientific methodologies published in peer reviewed journals
- Product recommendations and feedback informed by decades of experience
Over a decade of data collection
For exceptional quality of insight, we have curated a comprehensive database of bra performance tests. Discover how your bras compare to every bra we’ve ever tested. This is an unparalleled chance to find out exactly how your products compare to leading bras in the market.
Our bra testing stamp
As one of our clients, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to use our bra testing stamp. This shows your products have been independently tested by some of the most highly-regarded breast science experts in the world. You can display the stamp on marketing materials, packaging, presentations and even on the products themselves.
Create the ultimate bra testing package to suit your needs
You can pick and mix from four testing options. Choose one test (Bronze), or multiple tests in any combination (Silver or Gold).
All tests take six weeks to complete, and you will receive regular updates throughout, from our dedicated researcher.
We offer three testing packages:
- BRONZE (one test)
- SILVER (four tests)
- GOLD (eight tests)
Your testing options
Biomechanical test (sports bras or everyday bras)
Aim: To establish the support and comfort provided by five bras of your choice.
3D scanning and bra fit test
Aim: To assess the 360 degree fit of your bras and how they shape and position the breast.
Aim: To have bra performance evaluated practically, by your target market.
Focus group opinion test
Aim: Get authentic opinions and attitudes from your target market, to inform future product design and/or marketing.
Other ways we can help you
Data processing service
Collect data in-house
We’ll help you set up your own remote breast biomechanics laboratory in your factory. You can then collect your own data, which we’ll process rapidly using our robust scientific algorithms.
This service enables you to receive quick results, to better assess initial prototyping and bra development. It also ensures you are always using the latest data collection and data analysis processes, keeping you ahead of the competition.
Bespoke research projects
Our research group is interested in investigating the full spectrum of factors which matter to industry. We can work with you on a research project, designed to meet your needs. Alternatively, we’re often seeking commercial partners for fundamental research.
Find out more
Got questions? Interested in a visit to our laboratory?
Please get in touch:
T 023 9284 5161
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For the fifth year in succession the Research Group in Breast Health will be running ‘The science behind breasts and bras’, a one-day educational workshop available to everyone. This workshop will offer you the chance to expand your knowledge and understanding of the science behind breasts and bras. You will learn about breast anatomy, the problems with breasts and the science behind how the breast moves. The workshop also presents the latest cutting edge research in breast biomechanics, breast support (both sports bras and everyday bras) and bra fit. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from the world leaders in this area!
Attendees from the workshops commented that the workshop was "an excellent mix of interaction and presentation" and they found the workshop to be "informative and most of all good fun!” Opportunities were given for networking and "hearing research and meeting people with different backgrounds" were quoted as the most useful aspects of the workshop.
The Research Group in Breast Health is in a unique position to be able to offer this exciting course, where information on the science of breasts and bras gained from research experience can be shared with bra manufacturers, designers, healthcare professionals and many other interested parties. There is currently no other workshop available on the market which is able to provide up-to-date and relevant information in this area.
Additionally we offer tailored workshops to meet the needs of the audience. For more information please contact email@example.com
Research Group Members
This research group is coordinated by Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, Reader in Biomechanics, and includes the following colleagues;
- Tim Blackmore, Senior Research Associate
- Amanda Brasher, Visiting Research Associate
- Dr Nikki Brown, Senior Lecturer in Health and Exercise (St Mary's University)
- Dr Jenny Burbage, Senior Lecturer in Biomechanics
- Dr Tim Exell, Lecturer in Biomechanics
- Brogan Horler, Senior Researcher
- Melissa Jones, Research Assistant
- Anna Marczyk, Biomechanics Technical Support
- Dr Chris Mills, Principal Lecturer in Biomechanics
- Michelle Norris, Senior Researcher
- Dr Joseph O'Halloran, Lecturer in Biomechanics
- Atefeh Omrani, PhD researcher
- Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr (lead)
- Emma Sharland, PhD Researcher
- Dr Jenny Smith, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology
- Alison Walker, Visiting Research Associate
- Sophie Rej, PhD researcher
- Zoe Charlick, MRes Researcher
See our newsletters to learn about previous developments within the research group and to keep updated on news and research.