Sport is becoming a bigger part of everyday life and this is no more so apparent than in female sport. Participation is increasing across the board and manufacturers are responding. Progressive has been involved at the leading edge of sports bra research for 7 years, which means we have developed state of the art methodologies to measure and assess the effectiveness of sports bras to keep women comfortable when exercising.

The challenge we most often see in the sports bra industry is tackling the trade-off between support and comfort. As a bra is designed to better support the breast, we typically see the comfort of the bra diminish. Likewise, if a bra is designed to be really comfortable, the level of support is typically a low-impact bra. Our testing methods are geared to understand how different prototypes tackle this relationship and give us data streams that open doors to developing understanding of which aspects of a bra’s design are influencing each metric.

Over the years we have been developing our test protocols to continue to enhance the quality of our insights. This is no more valid than in our sports bra research and, in particular, validation. We work with many leading sports brands to validate novel designs, quantifying the level of support using biomechanical motion capture data and measuring the comfort and fit of the bras through participant feedback and pressure sensing.

Typical bra studies run at Progressive’s labs involves a biomechanical analysis of breast motion in 3D space, relative to the thorax. Markers are placed on the thorax to define the movement of the body and markers are placed on the bra at the nipples to measure the movement of the breast. Research has shown that nipple motion is an accurate representation of breast motion and that, assuming a good fit, the movement of the bra is representative of the movement of the breast tissue.


Running is a repeatable, high impact movement that many people can recreate to a set standard. As a result, it is ideal for this type of biomechanical analysis. If there is a specific use case scenario that the bra is targeted to deal with, we have adapted our protocol to include a range of different movements and exercises before to best simulate the intended use-case.

Sports bra testing is not limited to biomechanics and perception. We have looked at the strains present within garments using Digital Image Correlation to understand the effect materials in the bra are having on creating support of comfort. We have investigated the tensile material properties of the garment and its constituent materials to draw links between the underband, straps, cup materials, gore dimensions etc. and the comfort or support levels of the bra.


The wide range of knowledge we have developed over time has been captured within a state of the art report. A free version outlining the content can be downloaded at the bottom of the page, which we will update should you choose to purchase the full report. This is split into four sections: literature review; expert review and focus group; patent collection; and construction, performance and comfort relationships.

The essence of what Progressive can add to your sports bra research can be simple validation and comparison of your prototype product against other prototypes or competitor products through to in depth research of which design features of a sports bra contribute to increasing support or comfort. Ultimately, we are a flexible team that can adapt to suit your specific needs.

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"The testing Progressive Sports has carried out on M&S sports bras has helped us evaluate our garments performance. This has provided a good foundation for future developments and innovations. We look forward to continuing the partnership with Progressive in the future to help us thrive in an increasingly demanding market.

Lynn Nibbs

Product Development Technologies


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Progressive Sports Technologies maintain a highly skilled research and development team, at-hand to support your project requirements, large and small.

Progressive Sports Technologies Ltd
Advanced Technology Innovation Centre
5 Oakwood Drive
LE11 3QF
United Kingdom


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