I'm back, once again, to talk to you about boobs. But this time, I'm here to chat sports bras. Whether you're someone who exercised regularly pre-pandemic or have now found you need to take on more exercise since lockdown, there's one thing I'm sure of: Finding a decent sports bra is essential. I have been a keen runner for about seven years and have always found that no matter what cup size I've been, a sports bra to hold you in place is vital for comfort. While I also (sporadically) do yoga, I still find that support is needed during less vigorous exercise. What I'm saying is that I'm a sports bra evangelist.
But there is confusion about what kind of sports bra you should go for. I know in the past I was told that you should go for a size smaller than you'd usually take. Friends tell me they find them uncomfortable and don't like wearing them. So naturally, it made sense to ask a professional about this. I spoke to John Lewis & Partners about what they'd recommend and they gave me a few tips on what to look out for.
What material do you need in a really great sports bra?
There is no specific fabric to look out for, however, sports bras need to be made out of breathable, moisture-wicking fabric, so look out for those keywords. Some will be treated with an anti-microbial finish, so when caring for these, wash them on cool settings in a lingerie bag.
Should you take your usual bra size for a sports bra or should you go smaller?
No, you should always wear your correct size. Some brands may fit smaller so you may need to go up a size. The key things to look out for when checking the fit of your sports bra is that the band is firm and level all the way around your body and does not ride up when you lift your arms however you should be able to fit two fingers underneath your band when worn. The cups should fully encapsulate the breasts and there shouldn't be any "spillage" at the side or over the top of the cups. Some sports bras contain wires and these should sit flat against the chest all the way around and finish behind the breast tissue under the arm. There shouldn't be any gaping at the sides or top of the cup and the fabric of the cup should be smooth with no wrinkles.
How do you know when you need a new sports bra?
Like all bras, sports bras get looser with wash and wear. You should replace your sports bras if you have gained/lost weight or are going through a life change such as menopause. If the band feels loose on the tightest hook and eye, if you pull on the straps and the recovery feels poor and if cups are permanently creased or wrinkled.
What happens if you exercise without one?
Your breasts are supported by something called a cooper's ligament. When exercising, your bust can move up to 8 inches, which puts a huge strain on this ligament. Without a supporting sports bra during exercise, it can lead to soreness and possible damage to your breast tissue.