What are Cooper’s Ligaments?
Ligaments, in general, are connective bands of elastic tissue which exist around the joints. Their purpose is to keep the joints together, connect bones, and restrict movement. Ligaments essentially hold your body parts in place.
Cooper’s ligaments, named after an anatomist who first described it, is also known as the suspensory ligament. It connects the inner side of the skin of your breast to your chest muscles (also known as pectoral muscles). It also keeps your collarbone attached to your neck. This ligament, together with the fatty tissue below the skin, works to maintain the shape and structure of your breast. Simply put, this ligament holds your breasts up and together.
Now, you can imagine the Cooper’s ligament as an elastic band spreading throughout your chest. And as all elastic bands do, it also loses its flexibility over time. The result of this is, of course, sagging.
Why do Breasts Begin to Sag?
Unfortunately, sagging of breasts is inevitable, at least to some extent, no matter what measures we take to prevent it. Once your ligaments lose their resilience, there’s no way to restore them. So, what can we do to prevent damage to these ligaments?
During the process of aging, our bodies begin producing less and less collagen and elastin. These two molecules are responsible for keeping our skin, muscles, and fat tight and solid. This decrease is the most prominent during menopause when the fibrous tissue of the breast begins transforming into fat. Because of this, it becomes harder for the ligaments to keep this in place.
There are other factors related to reduced levels of collagen. These include smoking, increased alcohol consumption, and sun exposure, and a poor diet. In other words, a poor lifestyle will equal to less firmness.
But collagen is not the sole reason our breast sag or not. Apart from it, huge factors are weight gain and slouching. Both shift the weight of our breasts forward. The Cooper’s ligament is then strained, until the point when it becomes weaker.
Not wearing a bra will cause extra strain, because there will be no aid to your ligaments. When you work out, the effect becomes even more significant. The extreme movements of running, high-intensity training and many sports stress your ligaments. The Cooper’s ligaments are more fragile than most, so it’s especially important for them.
Women also often fear that pregnancy and breastfeeding will accelerate the sagging of breasts. While research has shown that breastfeeding doesn’t harm the form of your breasts too much, the increase of size and weight in breasts might factor into the rate of sagging.
How to Stop Your Breasts from Sagging?
While there might not be anything that you can do to completely eliminate damage to the Coopers’ ligaments and prevent breast sagging entirely, there are some things you can do to slow down the process and keep the perky shape of your bust for longer.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
We know this piece of advice is very general. But it is also the number one thing you can do for your entire body, breasts included. Staying healthy correlates with slowing down the aging of the body. So, what makes for a healthy lifestyle?
All the things we mentioned before that reduce the collagen production also harm your overall health. Try to avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Use a protective cream if you spend too much time exposed to the sun. Do your best to maintain a healthy weight, eat a high-quality diet, and include exercise in your routine. Also, aim to keep your weight as steady as possible. Significant weight fluctuations cause extra stress to your chest.
Wear a High-Quality Bra
This is imperative. Your breasts will thank you for wearing a high-quality, supportive bra of the right size. This advice is especially relevant if your breasts are on the larger side, but goes for all women. It becomes crucial during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A good bra will support the bulk of your breasts and help the ligaments fight the forces of gravity.
What bra is a good bra? Any that fits you and holds your breasts in place. But be careful, because your bra should never be too tight and restrictive. Wearing poor fitted bras is not only uncomfortable but can also increase the damage to Coopers’ ligaments. We’d recommend going to a proper bra fitting to make sure you’re in the right size. While a bra can initially feel fine, you might find that a professional fitter sees that the bra isn’t quite right, and that you could be in a more appropriate size.
The most critical time to wear the appropriate bra, again, is during exercise, though. Remember this particularly if you’re into activities that involve a lot of jumping. Sports like volleyball, Crossfit, and horseback riding can shock and weaken your ligaments to a much greater degree than other low-intensity sports.
Strengthen Your Pecs
Your goal is to strengthen your pectoral muscles, so that the connection between them and the ligaments is also stronger. Besides this, you should strive to have a solid back, shoulders, and core. These muscle groups aid you to maintain good posture which further promotes the health and durability of your ligaments.
Maintain Good Posture
As before mentioned, when you slouch, the weight of your breasts shifts forward and strains your ligaments. And you may also suffer from neck and shoulder pain. Apart from many other benefits of keeping a good posture, sitting and standing up straight relieves some of the pressure from them. Besides, it will make your breasts maintain their shape for longer!
Massage Your Breasts
A gentle massage of your breasts every once in a while may increase the blood flow and collagen production in them. You could use this as a skin care routine and kill two birds with one stone.
The Bottom Line
Aging is a process notorious for not being possible to reverse. We are all painfully aware of that. For women, this can be especially unnerving. But if we can’t change it, we should do our best not to stress about the natural course of events. Instead, we ought to try to improve it at least to some extent.
The conclusion we came to in this article is not half bad. What you should do is maintain a healthy lifestyle, weight, and exercise routine. Work to make your entire body stronger, and pay a bit of special attention to your breasts. You will feel the effects and see them as well.