Have you ever watched a woman jog down the street without a sports bra, breasts bouncing in a way that can only be described as painful? Ouch! Why go through that torture? Particularly when fantastic exercise bras are out there in a range of sizes and styles.
A sports bra is an essential garment for any woman who exercises, but many women never think to buy properly fitted bras for their workouts. In fact, some studies suggest that a whopping 73 percent of women who work out regularly do not wear sports bras. According to Sarah Weiner from lingerie boutique Trousseau, in Vienna, VA, “Some women wear old bras as sports bras, but that’s the worst thing you can do.” Old bras are already stretched beyond their ability to provide adequate support, so they certainly won’t hold up to the job of giving you the support you need during an active workout.
The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports has done extensive research on this subject and their findings strongly support the use of sports bras for active women. A sports bra significantly reduces breast movement and accompanying pain when exercising. Repetitive motion, which is a by-product of exercise for women, can also increase the rate of damage to delicate breast tissue, causing sagging and stretch marks – and nobody wants that. These can be avoided or at least minimized by the right sports bra. The threat to breast tissue is evident at every cup size — even an A-cup woman can get vertical stretch marks if she doesn’t take care of her breasts. These days, women can find great sports bras in a wide variety of sizes, from an A-cup to a K-cup.
There are two main kinds of sports bras: compression and encapsulation. Compression bras do exactly what their name implies; they push the tissue tightly against the body in a single cavity, making it more difficult for the breasts to move. Compression bras aren’t ideal for well-endowed women.
Anyone larger than a C-cup should strongly consider an encapsulation style bra. These are built and sized more like a standard bra, with each breast encased in an individual cup. Encapsulation bras feature bands with hooks and eyes and adjustable straps. Some encapsulation bras are underwire, to provide a more flattering and firm fit.
In the past few years, a number of new sports bras have entered the market, and some are specifically designed for different body types. In 2012, The Little Bra Company will be introducing a sports bra for petite women. This bra has light padding, to enhance a small-busted woman’s curves, while simultaneously providing needed support. After three years of design innovations, Panache is also introducing a new sports bra for cup sizes D-H. The bra achieved a 5-star rating for larger cup sizes from Progressive Sports Technologies, in the UK. In their studies, the bra was found to reduce bounce by 83% (in a size 32E, in comparison to exercising while wearing no bra).
Ultimately, the goal of a sports bra is to eliminate bounce, and keep your girls stable. Each jarring step does its damage, which adds up over time. The bottom line is clear – if you’re exercising, a properly fitting sports bra is an essential piece for both overall fitness and long-term health.