The Sports Bra - Your New Best Friend

As some ladies may know all too well, exercising without a good sports bra can make you uncomfortable, distract you and affect your confidence. But fear not, Elverys Intersport fitness experts have a guide to buying and fitting the perfect sports bra.

With no muscles in the breast, we can do irreversible damage by exercising without the correct support from a sports bra. Cooper’s ligaments are connective tissue in the breast that help maintain structural integrity. Essentially they are the natural support structures of the breasts. However the ligaments can become stretched during exercise causing the breasts to droop and sag. The bad news is nothing can restore them to their former position, but the good news is we can prevent any further damage. The sports bra company Shock Absorber conducted groundbreaking breast movement research studies with breast health expert Dr Joanna Scurr at Portsmouth University. She discovered that breasts, from A-cup upwards, can bounce up to 14cm when unsupported.

The key to a good fit is coverage so aim to encapsulate the breasts rather than compress or flatten them. This will allow each breast to move independently and reduce excessive movement. Compression bras are best suited to low impact exercise. The material on the cup should appear smooth with no wrinkling. Ensure the cup contains the whole of the breast, no cleavage is shown and there is no spillage from the top or side of the bra.

The soft under-band should be level all the way round and non-restricting. A comfortable but firm fit is required. You should be able to fit two fingers between the band and your skin. No more than 1 inch of “give” in the band is desirable and any excess room may cause irritation. When buying a sports bra you should be fastening the first eyelet as this will allow for stretch with wear and use of the other eyelets as required over time.

Straps should lie comfortably on the shoulders – snug but not too tight. Apply the band rule here allowing a comfortable but firm fit with maximum 1 inch of “give”. Racer-back straps allow an unrestricted shoulder range of motion. For larger cup sizes this might mean choosing a bra with straps that can be linked to mimic the racer back design. This design anchors the bra closer to the body, providing more support.

With each bra you try take the dressing room bounce test – simply jump up and down to check that you feel supported and secure. There's no magic formula to finding out which bra size will fit best so if you have never worn a sports bra before, start with your usual bra size but be open to trying on different sizes before you find the perfect fit. Like running shoes, a new sports bra will also need be worn in so to avoid any unexpected problems it is best not to wear a new bra on race day!

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