Women have a lot to think about when they decide to walk onto the jiu jitsu mats. We have to give up a lot of our superficial femininity to pursue those chokes and armlocks. Our nails are cut to the skin, our arms and legs are frequently bruised during dress season, our hair takes a beating from being rubbed and pulled during chokes… and then there is menstruation.
Will we have a leak during class? Quelle nightmare! Fortunately, there are a number of options for that. We can buy Thinx or menstrual cups and wear our white gis with confidence. But some women also suffer from breast tenderness during menstruation and there haven’t been many options for preventing additional pain from the pressure and friction of training.
I have been provided with The Revelia from Revele, a women’s training gear company in Paris, France that got its start on Indigogo. People were so enthusiastic about their vision that their campaign raised more than twice as much as they had hoped! Women in rugby, boxing, soccer, Brazilian jiu jitsu… all of us can benefit from their vision of a chest protector specifically designed for women to protect our delicate breasts from damage.
In her article, “You Can Kiss Your Boobs Goodbye!”, Revele’s Creative Director, Jennah Meyer describes Revele’s concerns with existing products,
“In regards to protection, the soft products being proposed today are too basic and fail to protect the sensitive zones of our bust. Hard and rigid cups, even when seemingly comfortable, fail to adapt to the morphology of our breasts (normal, they are hard pieces of pre-molded plastic). Their functionality can often backfire, leading to bruising under edges of the cups where the force of impact is directly diffused onto skin tissue.
Instead of relying on approximate guesswork, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We hired the very same people (The Breast Health Institute) who executed the initial studies mentioned above, to launch the very first study on the impact of shocks experienced during MMA (mixed martial arts) on breasts. An official study of this caliber provides a reference for us to better understand the proper risks and effects of repeated impacts, intensity, bruises, and shocks in order to properly design improved protection for female athletes.”
Jennah explains that breasts lay over the pectoral muscles, however, these muscles are not responsible for supporting the breasts. That is the job of the Cooper’s Ligaments, which maintain the shape and position of the breasts. According to wikipedia, these “ligaments run from the clavicle and the clavipectoral fascia, branching out through and around breast tissue to the dermis of the skin overlying the breast.” During the impact of exercise, the breasts bounce and these ligaments can be irreversibly stretched, causing sagging of the breasts. Add the impact of high intensity sports and these delicate ligaments are susceptible to even more trauma. Once damaged, these ligaments do not recover; the effects are permanent.
Revele worked with biomechanics professor Joanna Scurr, the biomechanics field leader and Head of the Research Group in Breast Health, to identify the vulnerabilities in the breasts during exercise, specifically mixed martial arts. Professor Scurr has been featured in a number of articles regarding breast health, including “How to Prevent Breast Damage During Exercise” which provides an in depth process for choosing the correct type of sports bra for your breast size and sport.
The professor offers testing services for sports bras and protective garments and it is from this lab that the Revelia has emerged.
- XRD Extreme Impact – High performance shock absorption technology
- REV-TECH Encapsulation – innovative seamless encapsulation process
- Breathable Mesh to facilitate movement during sports
- Ultra lightweight and comfortable tech Fabrics
- Antibacterial and stretch for movement and comfort.
- Recycled polyamide fabric. Eco-friendly
- Silicone Band for optimal fit
- Second-skin effect (I assume they mean this regarding comfort because it is worn on top of a sports bra)
The Revelia is a soft shell garment that is meant to protect the breasts from impact during sports. Because it was designed specifically for this purpose by female athletes, with the help of a breast health research team, it was constructed to move with the body. It is not stiff at all, though it may appear to be from the photos. I could easily roll up the Revelia and bind it with an elastic band, that’s how flexible it is.
This chest protector is constructed very well. The seams are sewn flawlessly, it boasts mesh breathing vents on the sides and on the interior hem, there is a silicone band that is meant to adhere lightly to the skin to keep it in place.
I have washed my Revelia in the machine with my BJJ gear over the past month after training four days per week and have not seen any wear and tear. Washing instruction recommends hang to dry.
To find your bra size, you can follow the instructions on the Victoria’s Secret website. I take size 32B in Victoria’s Secret bras, my measurements are:
- Band: 30 inches
- Breasts: 33.5 inches
In the Revelia, I take size small. Please see the product description for sizing instruction and if you need help, contact Revelia. I would have gotten size XS but Sara recommended that I get size S.
Measurements of the size small Revelia:
- Band: 13 inches
- Armpit: 14.5 inches
- Height: 12.5 inches
HOW TO WEAR
I was instructed by my contacts at Revele to wear the Revelia over my sports bra and have done so throughout my testing. Your sports bra will compress and support your breasts while the Revelia provides padding against impact and friction.
It is a compact, close fitting chest protector that is not visible under a rashguard. My teammates have asked me about it during class because they saw my photos on Instagram and Facebook but did not notice I was wearing it during no gi.
I’ve been wearing the Revelia every class for about a month, including some very hot training days. I really didn’t notice it at all during training. It is so soft and flexible and light, it just feels like a sports bra.
Though it is generally easy to put on, it does take some maneuvering to get it back off again.
The only time I did notice the Revelia during wear was when I would bridge in an exaggerated manner, either during drills or when rolling out my back on the RAD Roller. Because there is the additional padding, when I’m bridged up like that, I noticed that the front of the Revelia protruded a bit and I felt it coming up under my chin.
I also noticed that it does rise up a little bit but not enough to be felt during rolls and it does not require adjustment. The silicone band is snug but not restrictive and does not chafe the skin.
When we begin jiu jitsu, our bodies take a beating but I don’t bruise much anymore. I feel my body is a bit tougher than people who are newer to BJJ, simply because I’ve been training for ten years and am used to the contact. Someone could dig their elbows into my inner thighs all day and I still wouldn’t open my guard because it simply wouldn’t hurt.
I assume my breasts were similarly desensitized because I never really felt sensitivity or pain when rolling; or at least I didn’t. I noticed when wearing the Revelia that I generally felt the same as always because breast pain isn’t an issue I have, however now that I’ve been wearing it regularly, I do notice sensitivity when I don’t wear it. So it seems to me that the Revelia has protected my skin from that constant friction and normal sensation has begun to return.
I am fairly flat-chested, my bra size is 32B. Small breasts like mine are not as likely to droop and bounce as much as larger breasts, especially if a supportive sports bra is worn, however they are still susceptible to damage upon impact. I have always worn compression bras for athletic training and now that I have the Revelia, I feel much more confident about the longevity of my Cooper’s ligaments.
Overall, I am very pleased with the Revelia and am happy to have it. The fact that I have sensitivity returning to my breasts has to be a good thing, right? Now that I am aware of how fragile the Cooper’s ligaments are, I wish I had worn the Revelia sooner.
It is very expensive at 109 Euros (calculate exchange here), however they do have deals on the website, where if you purchase $200, you are eligible for free shipping. Sounds like a great opportunity to check out their sports apparel! I haven’t tested any of it but it looks very nice!
What are your thoughts on the Revelia? Let us know in the comments below!