Breasts and intensive movement are not designed to go together, ask the women on the sports field. Enter our saviour: the irreplaceable sports bra. Growing up, I played a bunch of sports and have had those moments, through the years, where the pain from the lack of proper support has distracted me for a good two minutes. I’ve also had several female friends of mine opt out of the option of playing a sport because they didn’t want to deal with the pain that accompanies the movement. There is a way out of this situation; buy a good sports bra! If you’re not familiar with this statistic already, 80% of the women who buy bras, aren’t buying the ones that they need. When the same thing happens while buying sports bras, you’re putting yourself through a lot of unnecessary discomfort, especially when your breasts are depending on you to keep them in place. Sports bras are often more expensive and the quality ones will be even more so, but it is definitely worth the investment. The next time you go shopping for a sports bra, these are some of the things to keep in mind-
1. Make sure the band is a firm fit
Move over cups, the band is the real MVP; most people tend to focus on the size and the shape of the cups while choosing a sports bra, but the real support comes from the band that hugs your rib cage. It provides 90% of the support necessary, and for that reason, should offer a firm fit, with minimum slack. When picking out a sports bra, go for one that has a band that is a little tighter than that of a regular bra and make sure that it lays flat against your chest, without riding up in the back.
2. Don’t buy the wrong size!
As discussed earlier, 80% of the women (a sizable amount of the population) wear a bra in the wrong size, and unless you’re part of the enlightened 20%, this is for you. When picking out a sports bra, it is natural to go for a size that is smaller, because one feels that the extra squishing will hold your breasts in place. Please don’t do that. The tightness might feel good initially, but when the sweat starts pouring, and your body temperature increases, it can be one of the most unpleasant experiences. A constricting bra can also lead to chafing, and leave behind unpleasant sores. On the other hand, if you’re wearing a sports bra that’s too loose, you’re risking damage to breast tissue, especially during high intensity movement.
Sports bras come in two types: encapsulation and compression. Compression bras are the ones that most girls are familiar with, where your breasts are pressed to the body without any space between them while encapsulation bras allow for each breast to remain separate and in their own cup. While compression bras are more popular- the most that they do is hold your breasts back- encapsulation bras offer you the best amount of support; the breasts move in a figure-eight motion, and a compression bra is not capable of efficiently handling that much movement.
4. They have a short life
If you’re like me, you still have a couple of sports bras from a couple of years ago, lying around in your drawer. You probably don’t wear them that often, but you should know that a typical sports bra only serves its purpose for a year or so, because of the intense movement that it goes through; you’re definitely not doing yourself any favours when you put that on and go for a run. The fabric in a sports bra loses its elasticity a lot faster than normal bras do, so it’s advisable to keep changing out those bras at the end of the year.
5. If you’re large chested, you don’t necessarily have to put on two bras
Been there, done that. Very unpleasant experience. Girls that I did PE class with would bitch about the fact that they had to put on two bras that day because of extra activity; “that’s the only way they don’t hurt.” Well, you probably haven’t looked hard enough for the right sports bra in that case; double-bagging isn’t the only option. For women with a larger bust size, you should go in for bras with an underwire, as it provides the support that is necessary.
6. What fabric is it made of?
This should ideally be a no-brainer, but as mentioned earlier: 80%… you get the picture. Cotton might seem like the obvious choice, as it allows the air to flow through and is lightweight, but is actually a bad idea for athletes as it retains water like a sponge. Furthermore, it cannot withstand heavy movement and provide the necessary support the way some other fabrics can. Instead, look for bras made of material that is ‘breathable’ and ‘moisture-wicking’- pulls the moisture away from your body.
7. Invest in more than one sports bra
Good sports bras are expensive. And buying more than one at a time is not an option for most women shopping on a budget but a little more money spent will give you a much better deal in the long run. You can’t wear the same bra to a workout over consecutive days, because they take a lot more time to recover than regular bras. If you work out regularly, make sure that you have enough to rotate them in such a way that you only wear one a week.
8. Check out your options!
Finding a good bra, at the end of the day, is essentially a waiting game. Familiarise yourself with the different kinds of options out there, and try on at least a few before you commit to buying one. Find a brand that has what you’re looking for and try out different styles to see what works for you. The extra time and money invested will definitely pay off at the end of the day.
So that’s that! Remember, lingerie is an investment, and a worthwhile one at that. A good sports bra will ensure that you have the necessary amount of support, prevent breast tissue from sagging and reduce your chances of developing stretch marks. Regular bras are not designed to withstand the movement that the breasts go through and no matter what size you are, there is no reason to not wear the right sports bra during a workout. If nothing else, make sure they have your support!