The “Locker Room” Talk
It’s that time of year when I get to deliver my “locker room talk” to my junior high students. One of the main topics includes wearing a good supportive bra. I thought I’d share a couple of pointers (no pun intended) with you as well.
A good fitting bra is essential to breast health and enjoying physical activity. Let’s face it, exercising without good support can be downright painful and actually cause damage to the Cooper Ligaments in your breasts, which help hold your breasts up and give them their shape and size. Sports bras can aid in protecting your breasts by reducing the stretching and stress that is placed on the tissue during exercise.
How much support you need will depend on the impact level of your exercises. The higher the intensity, (running verses walking) the more support you will require. Select a bra that fits the activity and impact level it is intended for.
Types of Bras
Compression bras compress the breasts against the chest wall to restrict movement and are best for A and B cups. Encapsulation bras use individual cups to surround and support each breast separately and are best for D and DD cups. Compression/encapsulation bras are “combination” bras which combine the two methods into a supportive and comfortable style and are best for C and D cups. These bras offer more support than compression alone.
When shopping, consider the following bra features:
- The band around the bottom is the foundation of a bra. It provides much of a bra’s support. Wide bands are more supportive than narrow bands.
- Shoulder straps hold up the cups but are not the main support of the bra. Wide straps are better than narrow ones. Straps should not slip off or press into your shoulders during high-impact activities. Adjustable straps allow you to customize the fit.
- Under-wire is a metal or plastic reinforcing material that runs along the bottom of the cup. An under-wire provides extra support and shape to any bra.
- Wicking fabrics move moisture away from your skin and keep you comfortable. The more supportive a sports bra is, the less effective it will be at wicking away moisture because of its sturdier fabric and construction.
Test Run Your Bra
Test the bra’s support by jumping up and down or running in place. You’ll be able to tell whether it’s sufficiently supportive or not. Look for a cup without wrinkles (too big), a secure band that doesn’t ride up and straps that feel comfortable and are adjusted properly. It should fit slightly tighter than a regular bra, but not so tight that you can’t comfortably breath. To make sure you have the right size, raise your hands over your head. If the elastic band moves up your rib cage, you need a smaller band or the straps may need to be adjusted. There should be no chafing around the armholes, shoulder straps, seams or clasps.
Sports Bra Care
Most sports bras last about 6 to 12 months. To maximize the lifespan of your bra, hand wash if possible, avoid using fabric softeners which can inhibit the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric and hang dry rather than machine dry.
You know it’s time to retire your sports bra when:
- The fit seems too loose or big.
- Vertical (up and down) movement has increased.
- The fabric is pilling.
- You can’t read the care label anymore.
If you can, have a certified fitter help you choose your bra. If you live in the Chicago area I highly recommend paying a visit to Betty Schwartz’s Intimate Boutique where the selections are great and the service is excellent!
What brands to you recommend?