Sports Bras – just like breasts – are not all made equally.
Ladies will often find themselves running in a Sports Bra that has held up well at the gym but might not prove as effective once they hit the road.
Running is one of the highest impact activities our breasts endure. Studies have shown an unsupported B cup can move eight centimetres whilst running on a treadmill. So it’s clear to see that breast support is important for all sizes.
A good Sports Bra will use a combination of compression and encapsulation of each breast to reduce total movement. During activity unsupported breasts will move through a figure-8 pattern, travelling up and down, in and out and from side to side. This can strain the Coopers ligament, which together with our skin, help support our breasts. The compression will reduce movement away from and toward the chest, while encapsulation helps to limit the crossover motion.
As an added bonus research from the University of Portsmouth has shown that wearing an effective Sports Bra will also:
- Reduce the activity of the pectoral muscle by 55% - which may reduce fatigue while running;
- Influence breathing rate, lung capacity and temperature during exercise, and;
- Reduce the downward force exerted through the legs and onto ground, thus reducing injury risk.
It’s also vital – as every runner will know – for your Sports Bra not to cause chafing.
Here are some things to look for when choosing your next Sports Bra:
- Fit. The band of the Sports Bra needs to sit snugly and securely on the rib cage without being so tight that it might dig in or restrict breathing. If the band is not firm the bra will move around as we run resulting in a lack support and be more likely to cause chafing. For distance runners in particular the band needs to maintain its firmness while the body depletes fluids. It’s often at the 18-20km mark when runners first experience chafing for this reason.
- Coverage. The cups need to fully cover the breasts at the side but also to provide coverage at the top as breast tissue can vertically escape during exercise. This area is often where there is the most movement and where women feel most unsupported.
- Compression and Encapsulation. A Sports Bra needs to have some level of compression to be effective. Pressing the breasts closer to the chest wall restricts the degree of movement that can occur. Encapsulation limits the figure-8 motion. Encapsulation can also reduce the risk of chafing for those who experience it between their breasts. The quality of the material of the bra is also important as it will dictate how long the bra will maintain its compressiveness and therefore its effectiveness.
- Comfort: This is actually just as important as all of the other points. If it’s not comfortable you’ll be less likely to wear it and more likely to go back to less effective options. Whether the Sports Bra is racerback, traditional back or a particular colour is not as integral as ensuring the bra is the right fit, provides adequate coverage and effectively compresses and encapsulates. Occasionally it is required to forgo fashion for effectiveness, though there are some great Sports Bra options in great colours out there!
Because each of these factors is so important it’s best to have your Sports Bra professionally fitted and to do so regularly as our womanly shapes can fluctuate.
What better way to ensure you’re wearing the right Sports Bra than to experience a free measure, fitting with optional treadmill wear testing and motion analysis breast assessment at She Science. Our Sports Bra Store stocks Australia’s largest range of technical Sports Bras from twelve industry leading brands. We cover cup sizes A – J and band sizes 6 – 24. In store we’ll help you through the process of finding your best Sports Bra taking in to account your size, shape, activity demands and personal style preferences.
By Angela McLaren
Senior Bra fitter, She Science