Ever wondered if you really need a running bra and if so, which is the best running bra for you.
Unfortunately as us ladies get older our breasts tend to do their thing of heading downwards. Our tissues and ligaments become less elastic with age so it is only natural. Running can be a major boob enemy, but not if you wear the right running bra.
I'm naturally small chested and I've always felt self conscious about it. But once I started running, well I realized that actually being small busted can be an asset and that small or not, we ladies all need to wear a running bra.
Your breasts are supported by skin and ligaments. As your run, these ligaments get stretched and pull the breasts in all directions. Since these ligaments aren't elastic, over time they stay stretched leading to saggy boobs.
When you run without proper support, your breasts not only move up and down but also in and out and side to side like in a figure of 8 pattern. This can lead to breast pain, back pain and shoulder pain as shown by the research at University of Portsmouth Breast Research Group.
Sports bras were only invented in the 1970's (wow!). Two women sewed two jock straps together to form the first sports bra known as the "Jogbra".
You might be wondering if you can just wear your ordinary everyday bra. The answer is no, especially if you want to avoid being sweaty, have saggy breasts, breast pain and back pain.
There are 3 main types of sports bra:
Some of the above bras will have under-wire which further helps keeps breasts in place. Plus some will have padding to give you a bit more shape if you want it. If you sweat a lot, avoid the padded bras.
When you go shopping for a running bra, you will be confronted with a choice of low impact, high impact, padded, zip front and so on.
So how do you find the best running bra ?
I definitely advise to go for a sweat wicking fabric. These move the moisture away from your skin and so that it can evaporates more easily. Don't go for plain cotton as that absorbs the sweat and doesn't evaporate so you'll feel constantly damp.
Crisscross back : These straps cross over your back in an X shape. Some have adjustable straps that hook onto the back band but others have fixed straps which means you have to slip the bra over your head first and then grapple with getting your arms in the right holes.
Racerback: These form a sort of Y shape between your shoulder blades. The downside is that they often don't have adjustable straps and like some of the crisscross bac sports bras, you need to slip it over your head to get it on and off.
Tank Top: These are more like your everyday bra with vertical straps that are usually adjustable. Some of them have an extra hook so that you can turn them into a crisscross back. This is the best running bra for me as it is so versatile.
I've tried several types including back closing , the type that you slip over your head and zip front running bras.
The sports bra that you slip over your head tend to be compression sports bras. The support is often fine but trying to get it off after a run when you are hot and sticky, is quite difficult.
Back closing bras are just like your ordinary bra. Make sure that you can do the closure up snugly on the tightest notch as over time the bras do stretch so you may find that you end up going down a notch.
Zip fronts are my favorite. Easy to put on and easy to take off. They might not offer as much support as a back closing bra so bigger ladies might not get enough support. Do go for a good quality one though as a cheap bra also means a cheap zip and escaping boobs!
Many manufactures put an impact rating on their sports bra. This basically tells you if the bra offers the appropriate support for the type of sport that you are doing.
LOW IMPACT sports are generally those where your feet remain in contact with the ground so this might include walking, hiking.
MEDIUM IMPACT sports are those where your breasts are subjected to a fair bit of bounce such as with power walking, dance and elliptical bike training.
HIGH IMPACT sports are where both your feet leave the ground at the same time and there is lots of breast bounce. This includes RUNNING, jumping rope, hopping, tennis and aerobics.
SIZING: Many manufactures don't use cup sizes like a traditional everyday bra but they might use S, M, or L etc. However usually they do give a guide of the size of chest that they will fit. This is why it is important to try before you buy (see below).
Firstly, unless you know the exact running bra that you want because you've tried it before, then don't buy without trying it on. They are not like a t-shirt where a bit of bag and sag here and there is OK. A sports bra must be a perfect fit for you.
Try on several sports bras to see which feels the most comfortable. The chest band should feel snug but not restricting and the shoulder straps should not be digging in.
Cup Size and Bounce:
Your breasts should sit comfortably inside the cups with no bulging over the top or out the sides. Jog on the spot and see if your breasts are bouncing too much or not.
The chest band should be parallel to the ground and if you take a deep breath, your should be able to breath comfortably. Raise your arms above your head and twist your torso from side to side. If the chest band rides up, trying lengthening the straps,
The underwire should sit flat and under the breasts and not be pinching or digging in.
Over the next few months, I plan to review as many running bras as I can get hold of so hopefully I can help you find the best running bra for you :).