Whether you are blessed with teacups or your cup runneth over, choosing your sports bra is an important part of any exercise program.
What should sports bras do?
We ladies have something called Cooper’s Ligaments. The Cooper’s Ligaments give a woman’s breast its characteristic shape and position. As women age the Cooper’s Ligament will lose its elasticity and begin to stretch and loosen. When this occurs, women’s breasts begin to sag. The Cooper’s Ligament will also loosen and stretch during pregnancy, because of the release of the hormone relaxin. All women can cause damage to the Cooper’s Ligaments by not wearing a supportive sports bra during high impact activities. A-cups are at risk for sagging as well as DD‘s. Sagging cannot be stopped, but with a properly fit bra, sagging can be delayed.
A sports bra is also one of the most integral components of making a run or walk comfortable for a woman. We all know that bounce does not feel good and it’s hard to focus on your workout if your body isn’t properly taken care of.
Size Does Matter
Did you know that 5 out of 6 women are wearing the wrong size bra? Your sports bra should not pinch, chafe, rub or constrict and it should eliminate painful bounce and movement. That’s quite a task. You cannot achieve all of that if you are wearing the wrong size. Many women are most comfortable fitting themselves so we have measuring tapes and instructional posters in the dressing rooms if you would like to fit yourself. But the first step when buying a sports bra is to make sure that you have the right fit. Women should check their size once per year because our bra size changes with weight fluctuations.
The more endowed among us have a particular problem when it comes to exercise and sports bras. How do we stabilize our chest to make exercise comfortable and eliminate back pain without wearing 3 sports bras?? We can help. If scientists can send a man to the moon, they most certainly can master the sports bra - and they have. One of our bras for larger sized chests has been listed several times in Oprah magazine as THE answer to providing comfortable and stabilizing support.
Types of Sports Bras
There are three major types of sports bras: compression, compression/encapsulation, and encapsulation.
Compression: The compression style bra is the most common and is designed to press the breasts flat as a single unit against the chest to minimize movement. The compression bra works well for small to medium breasted women, or A and B cup women. Most of the "stylish" sports bras are compression-style bras. A compression style bra does not have adequate support for a larger cup size in high impact activities.
Compression/Encapsulation: The second style of sports bras, the compression/encapsulation bra is designed to encapsulate each breast as well as press the breast against the chest cavity. Typically these bras are great for medium to larger breasted women, such as C, D, and some DD women.
Encapsulation: Encapsulation bras are best for larger breasted women. These look more like regular bras, some even have underwires, but they offer much more support by harnessing each breast individually instead of compressing them as a single unit. Every part of an encapsulated sports bra contributes to supporting the breasts so the shoulders don't bear all of the weight.
We are happy to have an extensive selection of all types of sports bras in stock. We carry the Enell bra, featured in "O", "Shape", "US Weekly", "Self" and "Prevention" magazines as THE bra for women with larger chest sizes. Check it out for yourself and see why Oprah called it her 'O' pick, saying "Once you get yourself hooked into this thing, believe me they're not going anywhere."
Shopping for a Sports Bra
So, when you are shopping for a sports bra, first, you must be sized (by one of our staff or by yourself with our instructional poster in the dressing room). Second, you must consider for which activity you are planning to wear the sports bra. You may find that you want to have a particular sports bra for your high impact activities to really keep everything in place and a comfortable, less supportive bra for low impact activities where you don’t need as much structure.
Key things to look for in any sports bra are:
* the ability to wick moisture away from the skin and dry quickly
* breathability to allow for a cooling flow of air
* a bra that doesn't rub or chafe
* straps that don't dig into your shoulders
* the band around your lower chest shouldn't shift or bind
* bra should be at least 25% Lycra, anything less won't compress breasts sufficiently.
In the dressing room, try several styles that correspond to your bra size, keeping in mind a good sports bra will fit more snugly than a regular bra. Test for motion control; do a couple of jumping jacks or try running in place. Does it minimize breast movement well enough? Clap your hands over your head. If the elastic band around your chest moves up, it doesn't fit properly. Does it pinch or leave marks on your skin? Check the seams, are they smooth and soft? Is the bra fabric puckering (cup size too big) or is there spillage above the bra (cup size too small)?
Sports Bra Care
Take extra care to hang your sports bra on a line to air dry after hand washing. Machine drying destroys the elasticity and support of the Lycra found in all good sports bras, reducing the bra's ability to support your chest. The lycra in a typical sports bra lasts 6-12 months (about 52 washes if it is hand washed and hung to dry, shorter if it is machine washed and dried). After that time, your bra is no longer supporting you the way that it should.
Questions? Stop by anytime. We are happy to help!