During running or exercising, breasts bounce with each footstrike, and this repeated action accelerates permanent stretching of the skin and sagging. Though small-breasted women don’t experience as much bouncing as large-breasted women during vigorous exercise such as running, experts agree that all women runners should wear a sports bra.
Finding a sports bra that’s comfortable and keeps, uh, everything in place can be more challenging than running a 10-kilometre race. Besides providing enough support, a sports bra should feel comfortable mile after mile. A good sports bra doesn’t chafe around the armholes or ribcage. The straps don’t dig into the shoulders. The band beneath the breasts shouldn’t bind or abrade. And a good sports bra wicks moisture from your skin so your breasts don’t feel like they’re baking. Look for the following when choosing the perfect sports bra.
• Fabric: Moisture next to the skin can lead to chafing – choose polyester, Lycra or nylon to wick it away. You will still find a percentage of cotton in many sports bras because it’s soft and comfortable.
• Straps: With any bra, the straps should not slip off your shoulders. If you’re larger-busted, look for wider, thicker straps.
• Support: Double lining or thick fabric with Lycra is often enough for smaller-busted women, but women with C or D cups may prefer to look for built-in support panels and/or underwires.
• Comfort: Never buy a sports bra without trying it on. Make sure it doesn’t cut in under the arms, and that you can comfortably stretch every which way. The general rule is the less hardware (clips, clasps and wires) the more comfort – but the less support.
• Durability: This only becomes apparent with time. Keep track of the brands you buy. They should wash nicely and not lose their stretchiness.
Follow these steps to find the right sports bra and keep it in top shape.
- Try on several styles and do a few exercises to see how each garment moves and feels. Jump up and down or run in place to test for support and comfort.
- Look for breathable fabrics; they wick moisture away from the skin and have a gentle, supportive stretch.
- Always avoid sports bras with snaps, hooks or zippers. They can make your run very uncomfortable and leave nasty marks on your skin.
- If for some reason the seams of your favorite sports bra chafe your skin, try wearing the garment inside out so there are no rough edges.
- Once you find the right sports bra, it’s important to take care of it properly. Hang your bra on a line to air-dry after washing. Machine drying destroys the elasticity and support of the Lycra® found in most sports bras.