Research has shown up to 56% of women suffer breast pain during physical activity such as dancing, jogging or boxing, which can ultimately lead to damage to the chest ligaments, sagging of the breasts or back pain.

Many sports bras are not designed with these biomechanical functions in mind. Now, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is using motion capture technology to help Berlei test the level of bounce reduction their sports bras offer and apply this testing to design new sports bras that provide even more of a biomechanics advantage.

The AIS is Australia's premiere sports training institute. It has an international reputation as the world's best practice model for high performance athlete development. Its biomechanics department houses a 22 camera Vicon motion capture system, which is used to test the performance of athletes. Everything from running gait, volleyball and bowling techniques are analysed using the state of the art system.

Berlei is a major sponsor of the AIS, working with the biomechanics unit to measure breast bounce, testing its latest sports bra designs to understand the level of bounce reduction they offer. All Berlei sports bras are tested through the AIS biomechanics department and findings have been responsible for significant advances in the product design of Berlei's sports bras. As a result, all Berlei sports bras are tested and endorsed by the AIS.

"Our research with Berlei relates to breast bounce and comfort. It's important for athletes because performance can be limited by breast discomfort," said Dr. Nick Brown Head of the AIS Biomechanics department.

Motion capture technology is most commonly associated with the entertainment industry, with the likes of major blockbuster films, A Christmas Carol and Beowulf, making the technique a household name. However, the technology originated in the life science market nearly 30 years ago, moving to the sports science and entertainment markets 10 years later. AIS research with Berlei is conducted using a treadmill and 8 Vicon MX40 motion capture cameras with Nexus software.

The treadmill is surrounded by the Vicon cameras and six reflective markers are placed on the participant's chest in a set formation. The light emitted by the cameras is reflected back and the markers' 3D position is used to create a digital skeleton in the software.

Brown continued: "As well as the digital information collected with the Vicon system, we also ask each participant to give a self-assessment of breast pain and bra comfort after a walk, a jog and a run versus the unsupported test.


"Because we're working directly with the Berlei design and product development team, they can take the feedback straight away to help them develop something new, moving the range forward. I believe Berlei are the only sports bra manufacturer to test their bras in this way."

"The beauty of the Vicon system is that it enables us to precisely quantify vertical bounce using the Nexus software, relative to the trunk. Therefore showing us how much the bra reduces bounce," praised Brown. "This can mean up to a 60% bounce reduction versus an unsupported test."

Brown comments on the benefits of Vicon motion capture: "Berlei's designers love to see the results coming back in real time. At the end of a working day we have up to 60 10 second trials that have been fully digitalised. The speed that the data is processed is impressive, making it convenient and easy to demonstrate the differences to Berlei in real-time and get feedback straight away"

The treadmill is surrounded by the Vicon cameras and six reflective markers are placed on the participant's chest in a set formation. The light emitted by the cameras is reflected back and the markers' 3D position is used to create a digital skeleton in the software.

Brown continued: "As well as the digital information collected with the Vicon system, we also ask each participant to give a self-assessment of breast pain and bra comfort after a walk, a jog and a run versus the unsupported test.

"Because we're working directly with the Berlei design and product development team, they can take the feedback straight away to help them develop something new, moving the range forward. I believe Berlei are the only sports bra manufacturer to test their bras in this way."

"The beauty of the Vicon system is that it enables us to precisely quantify vertical bounce using the Nexus software, relative to the trunk. Therefore showing us how much the bra reduces bounce," praised Brown. "This can mean up to a 60% bounce reduction versus an unsupported test."

Brown comments on the benefits of Vicon motion capture: "Berlei's designers love to see the results coming back in real time. At the end of a working day we have up to 60 10 second trials that have been fully digitalised. The speed that the data is processed is impressive, making it convenient and easy to demonstrate the differences to Berlei in real-time and get feedback straight away."