You’ve got the new moisture-wicking tee, the form-fitting capris and the latest trainers, but you might be missing something vital. Whilst many of us spend loads on new sports-kit, there’s a tendency to forget that we should be investing in a good sports bra too. And if your training plan means you’re pounding the pavement or hitting the gym four or five times a week, you need to make sure you’re taking care of your breasts – before you do any damage.
Beat the bounce
Breast pain and sagging breasts are common among those who neglect their assets during exercise. A study carried out by the Australian Institute of Sport tested runners wearing a sports bra against a fashion bra, a crop top and nothing at all and found that the sports bra reduced pain and vertical movement by 50 per cent compared to bare-breasted exercise.
Over time, exercise can cause the Cooper’s ligaments (the connective tissue in your breasts) to stretch and, as these are your only real natural support, this can cause your breasts to sag – which is irreversible. A good sports bra will significantly reduce the movement of your breasts during exercise, helping to reduce discomfort and prevent sagging in the long term.
Don’t settle for second best
It’s also worth bearing in mind, that a crop top is not the same as a sports bra! A sports bra provides sports-specific support to ensure your breasts are held comfortably in place throughout your run or workout. Trust us, once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back! But, how do you find the right bra for you?
A perfect fit If you can get your sports bra professionally fitted, then do so – it’s well worth it to get the right size and style for your shape, and may stores offer free fittings. But if you’re going solo there are a few key points to consider.
1. Be sport specific Before you start, work out what kind of activity you’ll be wearing the bra for. ‘If you’re running, you’ll want a very supportive bra that will have more structure to it and most likely be an encapsulation or combination bra,’ says Amanda Brasher, senior buyer at Sweatshop. ‘But if you’re doing something like yoga, you may want something more flexible and with less formal structure, like a compression bra, that allows free movement and is comfortable when you’re in lying positions.’ Sweatshop recommends the Shock Absorber RUN bra as the best bra for runners and the Shock Absorber B4490 as the best combination bra.
2. Under and out
The key thing to look out for is the fit of the underband, as this provides the majority of the support. ‘Always try a bra on at its longest hook,’ advises Amanda. ‘If you’re looking at yourself side-on in a mirror, the underband should lie flat like a horizon from front to back; if it’s higher at the back than the front, then it’s too big and you need to go down a band size.’ So if you’re usually a 34, you might need to go down to a 32.
3. Mirror, mirror Then take a good look at the front of the bra in the mirror. ‘The cup should be smooth, wrinkle free and cover the whole breast tissue,’ says Amanda. You don’t want to see any breast spilling over the sides – not only is it unflattering, but it’s an indication that the bra doesn’t fit properly. ‘It’s important to try bras on,’ Amanda says. ‘Even within brands, bra sizes vary so much that the same woman can fit two different sizes, depending on the shape of the bra.’
Keep these tips in mind next time you hit the shops and you – and your girls – will be ready for any fitness challenge ahead.
Sweatshop offers free fittings with specially trained staff members at all their stores. Or, click here to check out this great video guide.
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