Women's Complete Guide to Running
Women's Complete Guide to Running
CH A PTER 2
WOMEN-SPECIFIC EXERCISE ISSUES
By Barbara Galloway
While most of the principles of physiology and training apply to men and women alike, there are some significant gender differences. Men tend to have larger and stronger muscles, more testosterone and stronger bones than women. Women have wider/flexible hips and greater fat storage. After coaching many women for over 30 years, we've found that women runners have more patience, tend to be more aware of the changes (especially hormonal) in their bodies, place great value in long-term health, and are more likely to back off before running aches become injuries. In this chapter we will address the problems that only women face-with some resources.
MO V EMENT OF INTERN A L ORG A NS
There is no evidence that running will cause the internal organs to move around and be damaged. Experts believe that our ancient ancestors regularly covered thousands of miles every year-probably more than most Olympic athletes today. Some who study this period of primitive human history believe that women made these constant journeys while pregnant or when carrying young children.
BRE A ST ISSUES
Some women are concerned that running can break down breast tissue. I've seen no evidence for this in any research or noted by any expert in this field. There are support and chafing issues which are managed daily by millions of women exercisers. Larger-breasted women may have a tendency to run or walk with a slight forward lean which can produce lower back and neck muscle fatigue and pain. The postural muscle exercises mentioned in this book can help in managing this problem.
BR A S
This piece of exercise equipment is just as important as shoes for comfort and running enjoyment (maybe more) for most women. If the shoes and bra are not selected for your specific needs, you won't be very comfortable and can be miserable when you run. You will gain a great deal of control over your running comfort when you take as much time as necessary to select the model that supports you best and is comfortable. Be prepared to pay significantly more than you would pay for your everyday bra. Remember that bras usually last a lot longer than shoes.
- There are a growing number of bras designed for specific types of exercise based on cup size. Enell, Moving Comfort, Champion, and Nike are just a few of the brands.
- Many of the well-constructed "workout bras" are not supportive for runners. The elastic in these products (for twisting and extraneous motion in tennis, Pilates, etc.) allows for significant bouncing and stress when running.
- Comfort: Look first at the fibers next to your body. The micro fibers can move moisture away from your skin. This can greatly reduce chafing (see next section).
A & B Cups: Women who wear these sizes can often find support with an elastic compression bra. There will still be some movement during exercise, and sometimes some skin irritation (particularly on long runs or walks), but this is usually minimal (see the next section on chafing).
C, D & E Cups: Compression bras don't work. Look for bras that have cup sizing and straps that have minimal or no elastic. Strap placement will differ among individuals-so try on a variety of bras to find the configuration that matches up with your body. If you receive pressure on the shoulders, where the straps press down, padded straps can help. Many large breasted women have reported success with the Enell brand and the Fiona model from Moving Comfor