I can’t quite believe it’s only taken me 29 posts to talk about bras. Me, the bra queen and owner of many, many pieces of frouferie (nearly 200 at last count – it’s an addiction) and lover of all things supportive.
I was watching an SBC video on Instagram the other day (this isn’t a dig at them) and marvelled at how in this day and age, women still work out without wearing a supportive sports bra. I mean it’s 2016 for gawd’s sake!! We have amazing fabrics that can support the weight of an elephant (maybe) and wick away boob sweat as well as stopping them from moving around on your chest and yet women are still not wearing them!
I get it, there’s a sexy-glam aesthetic that the SBC and others want to follow, especially in the age of the gym selfie (taking a photo when I’m sweaty, gross and bright red isn’t my thing; each to their own I say though) and so sports bras become no more than a plunging crop top, but if you are jumping about and doing any kind of up down or side to side movement you need a proper sports bra (and here’s the kicker) NO MATTER WHAT SIZE YOU ARE!!
In my humble opinion, if you are doing anything more strenuous than sitting on a sofa watching telly and are bigger than an A cup, then you should be wearing some form of support. When I say A cup, I mean a true A cup, with very little width or fullness to the bust. None of this 34A-when-you-should-really-be-wearing-a-30D-nonsense. I repeat, if you are moving – either using your arms or legs in a jumping/bouncing/up-down/side-to-side way then you need something more supportive than a glorified crop top. Really, you ask. Really, I reply.
Here comes the science bit – breasts are made up of skin and fat and don’t have any muscles, so they can’t be “trained” or get firmer with exercise. It’s a sad and ironic fact of life/kick in the teeth that when you’re exercising the rest of your body, your bust suffers from losing its fullness -the fat that makes it firm and full. By not being properly supported, you risk putting your bust through excessive movements because the connective tissues (Cooper’s ligaments) are delicate and not designed to spring back to shape. Once they stretch – that’s it. That’s what causes the sag.
Side note – this is why boob creams don’t work. Topical products can only improve appearance of the skin, NOT fix the stretched ligaments.
This handy Bounce-o-meter from Shock Absorber shows how much completely unsupported breasts move and also with a “normal” bra, how much damage can be done with high impact exercise. Now hopefully, you’ll see why support during exercise is so important!
Key points to look for in a sports bra:
- Firm fitting – all the support is in that band around the body, not the shoulder straps. Make sure you have a style that fastens at the back with hook and eyes – don’t get me started on zip front bras or those that your put on like a top! Put on to the loosest setting first so you can adjust as the bra ages, unless you’re a millionaire who can afford to replace their bras fortnightly. It should feel tight but not uncomfortable. Bear in mind that some sports bras come up seriously tight, so consider going up in the band.
- Coverage – this is not the time to show cleavage. A sports bra needs to cover as much of the breast as possible to stop you from jiggling and bouncing about. A high shape at the front is superior to anything low cut. Same goes for side boob (I mean seriously? This isn’t the Red Carpet!) if it is on show it’s not being supported.
- Try it on – on the odd occasion some alternative brand or style catches my eye I always make sure to try it on because invariably, what looks like a decent fit and shape on the model looks quite different on me. Sometimes they’re too deep under the arm and I can feel the seams rubbing the moment I drop my arms down. Always give it a bounce test in the fitting room.
- Material – leave cotton for t-shirts and knickers. Cotton bras don’t make good sports bras because cotton doesn’t keep its shape well and over a short time stretches out. I don’t know of any fully “natural” material that can beat the hold, support and longevity of a man-made material. Look for quick dry materials to wick away sweat.
- Straps – the amount of sports bras without adjustable straps out there on the market is unbelievable. Not everyone has the same bust level, and what would you do when the straps start to slacken after several washes?! Remember the support comes from the band not the straps so they should only be two-fingers width tight.
You wouldn’t wear high heels to run a marathon – the principal is the same!
I wear the Shock Absorber Active D+ Classic Support and for me this is the most comfortable, least jiggly, most strapped down and yet not flattened style for everyday training. I run, I jog, I bounce…and nothing moves. It is available in black, white and a sandy colour that passes for nude – perfect for becoming invisible under white t-shirts and not transferring colour from sweaty darker clothes. It is by no means glamorous or sexy, but it really does the job.
My other sports bra of choice is the Shock Absorber Run Bra and I would recommend this to anyone taking part in a triathlon or one of those horrible looking obstacle runs/anything where you might be drenched. If you’ve ever seen triathlon on TV then you’ll see women taking part in specialist swimsuits/tri suits. I need comfortable, flexible support under my tri suit that isn’t going to give me something else to worry about when swim/bike/running. I’m already thinking that I hate life and want to stop, I shouldn’t be letting a bra make that feeling worse! This was a great bra for my two triathlons – smooth seams so nothing chafed or rubbed, really quick drying so I didn’t feel like I had a wet bosom on the bike or run and a racer back to not give me any issues with arm movement whilst swimming. Plus it looked nice and could be worn just as a run top, but still with lots of support.
I’ve seen some really great styles from Freya (similar look to the D+ Classic from Shock Absorber) and an interesting flexi wire from Panache (although if it’s incorrectly fitted could cause more harm than good) but I’m open to putting my old stalwarts to the test!
Let me know what your best sports bras are in the comments.