Now then, for us ladies, this is potentially more important than any other item of clothing. If it wasn’t for the universality of shoes and socks, it would have been the first post in this series.
It is great to see so many people, especially us girls, getting up and running. Being a bit of an empath, I come over all pained on behalf of any lady I see running who clearly has not got the girls under control; I feel your pain in sympathy. It is not necessary to endure the discomfort of inadequately supported boobs. So please, please take some time to investigate your options.
Why wear a sports bra when running?
Your body moves in many different directions when you exercise. As your breasts do not contain any muscle or other structural tissue, they move too. That movement is driven by your upper body but your breasts move in their own pattern. Controlling that movement is the goal of your sports bra (and any other support clothing). Achieving that control can reduce your discomfort and, in some cases, pain.
A good, well fitted sports bra will:
- Reduce bounce (by up to 80%)
- Keep your Coopers Ligaments in good shape (these hold your boobs up; let them go and your boobs will only head south)
- Reduce the chance of neck strain
The bigger the breast the greater the demands placed upon the sports bra. However, the loads exerted by larger breasts upon the rest of the upper body also increase. Any increase in load in front of you (be that carrying a heavy box or bigger boobs) stresses the muscles down the back of the body that work hard to keep your posture upright. Add the forces generated by running and you will want to keep as much control over this particular part of your body.
What makes a sports bra?
Your average, everyday bra is not going to cut the mustard when you start pounding the streets and trails. A good sports bra has:
- Wider straps for security; this will disperse weight and be more comfortable compared to narrow straps. They should stretch only a little to reduce up and down movement. Ideally they should not dig in or slip off
- A supportive band to give the bra a solid foundation. It should be snug but not too tight; the wider the band the more support than a narrow band.
- Moisture wicking fabric; as with all running kit, cotton is not your friend. Wicking fabrics will more moisture away from the skin making you more comfortable. However, the more supportive the bra, the less wicking it may be due to the more sturdy construction.
- Fuller cup coverage to fully enclose and centre the breast. Wrinkles or creases in the fabric may indicate the cup size is too big. Breast tissue over spilling the cup indicates either the cup size is too small, or the design isn’t the right one for you.
There are many designs available. Some require a degree of contortionism to get on. Others have some amazing fabrics. Which to choose? That is a matter for personal preference but there are a few key watchpoints to bear in mind.
- Band – should be slightly more close-fitting than an everyday bra but not so tight that it restricts breathing!
- Chafing – the armholes, shoulder straps and any seams should be checked for potential chaffing. Any hooks or adjusters should also be checked.
- Straps – should be secure and comfortable. Too tight and they will dig in, too loose and they will not support enough, may move or even slip off.
- Support – run or jump in place with the bra on. The breasts should feel secure and supported. If it feels like they are moving up and down or side-to-side more than you would like, try another size or an alternative design.
A great place to start would be Boobydoo. They have a very wide range for all shapes and sizes alongside some great advice about your sports need, sizing, fitting and putting them on. Bravissimo has some fantastic designs for larger breasts
There are plenty of other retailers from running/sports shops to lingerie specialists – it really is a case of try before you buy.
But please, DO GET A DECENT, SUPPORTIVE SPORTS BRA TO RUN IN.