How’s your Support Network?
I don’t mean your hubby, family, friends, colleagues, other mums with little ones, we mean your BRA !! Yes I said it out loud – shouted it even. Underwear is a funny thing to talk about as for some, it can be embarrassing and for others possibly a bit too discussion worthy. I originally wrote the below article a few years ago when living in the Middle East as it was something that came up time and time again (and the boobs went down, time and time again) with our ladies coming to our Pure Fitness Classes in Dubai. The subject came up again this morning with my lovely new Upton Country Park (UK) class ladies so when I mentioned I had written an article about it before, they asked me to go find it and repost. It’s had a little facelift and obviously the shops have changed from Middle East to UK.
PLEASE DO READ
I’m not here to talk about the latest Victoria Secret offerings or anything of the lacy variety, I want to talk about super exciting Sports Bras. All too often, we see girls / ladies arriving at exercise classes or out training with as much support as a Co-op plastic bag so it’s time for a bit of education. I want to briefly explain the importance of good quality and strong supportive ‘over the shoulder boulder holders’, no matter if you are of the larger breast category or the smaller or the in between.
First – Anatomy
Your breasts / boobs whatever you want to call them are made up mainly of mammary glands, fatty tissue and are ‘supported’ by your skin and ligaments called Cooper’s Ligaments which are elastic band like structures going around the breasts. Most of the rest of the body also has bones and muscles to provide required support so are much stronger and require less external help (e.g. unless injured or with a specific condition – you only need to cover your legs for modesty not wear support tights whilst exercising). With bones and muscles, the brain can control how these parts of the body move, however as our breasts don’t have these support tools, we can’t use brain power to help and so they do have a mind of their own!
The breasts need to be held firmly in position to minimise bouncing around which can be uncomfortable, but more importantly, it can cause the Coopers ligament to stretch and once stretched it is irreversible, saggy boobs not perky melons forever unless you want to go under the knife.
An Australian study tested a sport bra against a fashion bra, a crop top and bare breasted and found that the sports bra reduced pain and vertical movement by 50% compared to bare breasted exercise. The crop top and fashion bra reduced vertical movement and perceived pain but only by the half the amount of the sports bra.
And as per our convo at our Womens Outside Workout class this morning, the Love Island (it shall remain nameless who is the fan, begins with an ‘N’ and ends in an ‘icki’ but shhhh) ladies seem to be sporting the half in and half out bikini boobage, I doubt their support is anywhere better than bare breasted and we all agreed (being age 38+ some of us ++), it just looks naff!
So Sports Bras:
Sports Bra’s come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, padded, non-padded, underwired, racer back, regular back, crop tops, encapsulating, compression. Most of these are pretty self explanatory but you may not have heard of encapsulating and compression bras.
Encapsulating bras have 2 cups which surround the breasts individually and provided the sizing / fitting is correct, can offer up and down support as well as side to side – this is a good thing.
Compression bras flatten the breasts to the chest to restrict movement but tend to only provide support against up and down movement not side to side.
A good SUPPORTIVE all round sports bra should have both these qualities built in (so look for the words). They should also contain high performance fabrics that cover the following features:
- Wick moisture away from the body and minimize the effects of perspiration while exercising
- Have special fibres for anti-bacterial and anti-odour protection
- Are quick drying, crease and abrasion resistant yet with a soft smooth feel against the skin
Phew, how does your current one hold up – literally???
How should a sports bra fit?
A bra should fit snugly around the ribs without stopping you breathing, it should give a smooth outline without ‘skin’ bulges over the cups or around your back (bra fat – eeek), and the straps need to be wide enough to support the breast without ‘Grand Canyon’ sized dents in your shoulders. A good sports bra should be so comfortable you will forget you are wearing it, if not GET A NEW ONE!
So Where do you Buy?
To be honest, it’s not the salubrious ‘where’ but the feel and support it gives no matter where it came from. 2 of my best supporting sports bras are from Tesco. You can get decent sports bras in the bigger supermarkets, sports shops, M & S, John Lewis, Next, Matalan etc etc etc.
What you want to look for is High Impact or Maximum Support or as my gorgeous women’s physio friend, Caz says, a ‘Busten Helter’. If you’re doing something like yoga and pilates then a lower support would suffice but please stay away from the crop tops, they might be good under a top but as support, ‘ain’t nothing going on but the rent!’ – can you name the band?
AND TRY the buggers on. Buying off the internet might save you some pennies but it may be a completely wrong fit. Just because you are one size in a Victoria’s Secret little number (remember those days? No, me neither), doesn’t mean you’ll be the same size in a Women’s piece of body armour circa a few centuries ago.
TRY OR DON’T BUY!!!!
Obvsiously once you get a make and size you love, then go for your life, find it online and save some pennies (for the VS one or a new handbag)
Ladies, there are loads of bra’s out there in all shapes, sizes, styles & colours, but the main thing for you to take away from this article is that the FIT of the bra is correct and if that means going into a shop and having a ‘dear old lady’ advise you and ‘help’ you into a bra (as my lovely Dubai busi’ partner / buddy Catherine and I used to discuss our own experiences, that would straighten even my hair), THEN SO BE IT. Try the bra on, do a wee jig & a jog or a jumping jack (pelvic floor squeezes please) in the changing room and if you can walk out without 2 black eyes and no breast pain and feel like you have the support you need, then go for it, it really is worth it in the long run.
If you’re aiming to keep those breasts young and perky, BUILD YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK NOW!!
RANT OVER, Elaine has left her soapbox or sexy windowsill as per top pic lol
Yep it’s still me