At a recent session, the topic of sports bras came up and I was challenged to write about it.
Here’s the way these blogs normally go:
- Exercising without a bra will lead to sagging breasts as the connective tissue / ligaments stretch.
- You need a bra
- The larger your breasts, or the more intense your exercise, the more support you need.
- Here’s some links. Buy some overpriced sports bras…
Not so fast.
Because this link between sagging breasts and exercise is far from proven. And in the same way, the link between wearing bras and reducing sag is also not proven at all. Some women experience sagging breasts despite being in bras and others do not. In fact, variables such as skin elasticity, breastfeeding, number of children, overall weight plus weight gain and loss are all significant factors in whether a breast will sag or not.
And in any case, what’s the issue with sagging breasts? And how much of this ‘issue’ is down to society’s expectations for women to look like teenagers? I like this post I came across recently.
Now I get that there might be psychological and self-confidence issues related to saggy breasts, in the same way as these might be related to any aging process.
But let’s be clear: there is no downside to letting gravity do it’s thing. There is no increase risk of anything. So if you wanna wear a bra go for it. If you wanna let ’em sag, go for it!
Sports Bra for Exercising
Having said al that. Do you need a sports bra for exercising? Probably. Let’s face it, jiggling and wobbling is uncomfortable. And breasts do move around a lot when exercising. So you might be more comfortable in a sports bra.
Normal bras with underwire and lace are unlikely to be robust enough or comfortable enough. And sports bras are generally easier to chuck in the wash with everything else.
But will wearing a sportsbra stop sagging? Probably not.
In any case, here are some things you should know.
Types of Bras
These are probably the most common form of sports bras. They are the sort of fitted, ‘vest style’ sports bras which have one solid piece of fabric over the chest.
These bras tend to work best with smaller breasts (below C cup), but are deemed the most effective for minimising ‘projection movement’ (in and out). Adjustable straps are recommended, as not all chest and shoulders are the same size, regardless of the bra size.
These bras have separate cups, offering protection to each breast individually. They’re deemed better for women with a C cup and above, as they’re more effective at minimising the individual breast movement in every direction.
Most bras come in a S/ M /L but others will have different cup sizes and band sizes that are similar to regular bras. Good quality bras will also be multi-adjustable. So look out for adjustable straps and adjustable bands, especially if you have bigger breasts, if you’re taller or smaller than “average”, or if you have a wider back (e.g. swimmers, rowers)
How do I find the right bra? Make sure you try it on! And make sure it fits for you right now! Not for your desired weight in 2, 4, 6, week’s time.
The most important aspect of fitting is ensuring that the band isn’t too tight or too loose. You should not be able to fit more than a finger under the band or cup – it should be snug, but not smothering. The band should be the same level all the way round – if it rides up, it’s too big. Or the straps are too short.
- Do you feel like you can’t wait to take your sports bra off? Then it’s too small… Get a new one.
- Does it cause bulges? Ditch it.
- Does it leave red marks on your skin? Ditch it!
You might need different bras for different times within your cycle. I need more compression / support in the run up to my period as my breast get sore. I also need a bigger size during this time, as I’m more bloated and my breasts are fuller (Marginally lol! But enough for my regular sports bras to be uncomfortable.)
You will need to regularly update it! Not only does the elastic wear and chafe but your size will likely change over time. So have a think, how long have you had the same sports bra? Does it actually fit? Or is it time to ditch it?
For larger breasts – you cannot go wrong with M&S. Many have adjustable back bands and adjustable straps. I used M&S when I was pregnant (and training) literally my only experience of having boobs!
For smaller breasts – my go to is Gap – the GapFit Sculpt Low Support Racerback Sports Bra…
What’s your favourites? Lemme know in the comments…