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More 'support' for women in the Army as sports bras are issued as standard to new recruits

A new initiative providing professionally fitted sports bras fitting to all new recruits is now well underway. The service, now provided for all British Army Basic Training centres and at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, offers multiple benefits.

A recent scientific study led by Army Recruit Health and Performance Research with experts from the University of Portsmouth showed that 85% of new recruits experience breast health issues relating to inadequate breast support and poor bra fitting during basic training.

With the implementation of professionally fitted sports bras, researchers observed significant improvements in perceived pain and poor posture associated with poorly fitted sports bras, as well as reports of improved physical and military task performance during basic training.

From the scientific research conducted by Army Recruit Health and Performance Research and the University of Portsmouth, Headquarters Army Recruiting and Initial Training Command contracted Boobydoo™ to provide all new recruits with three individually and professionally fitted sports bras on entry to basic training.

A sports bra is part of your kit. Without one, you’re unable to do your job to the best of your ability." Captain Jo Ellett

Having a number of different bras means that they can be chosen according to the training requirement, for running, or to wear under body armour, where underwiring isn’t suitable.

Captain Joanne Ellett, of the Corps of Royal Engineers, is a brand ambassador for BoobyDoo and has been championing improved breast support in basic training. She said:

“As a female in the military, you already stand out, you’re in the minority. Sometimes just because you’re a woman, they expect you to be at the back. If you have larger breasts you feel like you stand out again. A correctly fitted bra means you can have more confidence and perform better.”

The fitting and supply of sports bras is currently by BoobyDoo.

“Boobydoo are determined to provide exactly what we need to do our jobs. Boobydoo came to me and asked what training looked like and how they could improve the bras on offer. For example, a large clip at the back might dig in when carrying bergan or webbing. A zip at the front can dig in when you’re wearing body armour or crawling. It helped them to develop the range so they could improve the fitting: 8 different bras in a wide variety of sizes. They cater for everyone and their need.”

The supplier completes the fitting within the first week of training. Then recruits have one sports bra within seven days, and the remaining two by the end of week two. The band, cup, support and overall fit are assessed before recruits choose what they prefer.

“Some people are apprehensive, some of the girls are a bit nervous, but it’s such a worthwhile thing. A sports bra is part of your kit. Without one, you’re unable to do your job to the best of your ability. Breast health is something we should all do throughout our lives.”

Captain Ellett, who is also a GB Bobsleigh athlete and Army Rugby 7s player, is championing the cause for breast health and understands the importance of education to inform best practice relative to breast support.

“I’m working with Boobydoo and a number of healthcare professionals from across Defence for more research on breast health. At the moment, the issue of bras in basic training is the extent of it. We need to share the knowledge. It’s great we’re doing this now, but I’d love to see an opportunity to have sports bras issued the same way as boots are. But it’s not as simple, as they all have to be fitted, and women change over time with age, weight changes, motherhood; and so your needs change.

"Education on breast health is not just for women, the majority of the chain of command are men. It’s for everyone and should be a positive thing. “

Captain Ellett has shared information through videos on the Army Servicewomen’s Network as part of her role as brand ambassador for BoobyDoo.

“I had really good, genuine support. People hadn’t really seen anything like that, and it’s started the conversation. The next level is taking it further. The education bit is next, teaching people that you should wear a sports bra no matter what size you are.”

The Well HQ has published statistics which show that if two identical marathon runners were running a marathon and one was wearing a correctly fitted sports bra.