What you NEED to know about choosing a sports braFeb 24, 2006 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line What you should know about sports bras from one who wears them every time she works out (and sometimes when she doesn't). How to choose the right one for you.
I know many people dont think twice about even wearing a sports bra when working out. I know for sure that most guys dont! Heh. But many women I know workout without wearing a sports bra feeling that their regular daily bra or worse, no bra at all - is just fine.
When I started working out, dabbling in Richard Simmons tapes and little three pound weights, I never thought about what I was wearing. I threw on some sweats and a tank top and did my thing.
I am not a large busted woman. I would say I am average at 36C but I am quite thin so I guess the bounce factor is a bit more than it would be on someone with a bigger frame. I started noticing pain in my chest and my back after a bouncy workout and never really connected it with the lack of supportive bra I was wearing. One day, years ago, I went to an all womens gym with my sister and came out in my Flashdance garb you know, the leg warmers, shiny rights, Reebok Princess sneakers, and cut off sweatshirt. The woman who was showing us around the place asked me what type of sports bra I was wearing. Uh I wasnt wearing any bra. I didnt want to be restricted as I worked out, I told her.
She went off on me like my mother used to when I did something crazy and risky. She told me that I needed support now and later in life and, if I wanted my breasts to lie down on my chest and tuck into my waistband, not to mention hurt during and after workouts, I was fine. Otherwise, the next time I visited the gym, I was to have a proper sports bra on.
Lie down on my chest? Tuck into my waistband? I didnt care about the pain but beagle ears? Oh, that got me moving fast!
I ran to Kmart the next day and got a two pack of flat cheap sports bras. I was ready for anything! Nope. The trainer declared my new heather gray flat sports bra inadequate and then proceeded to lecture me on how to find a good sports bra for the activity I was engaging in.
This was many years ago and her advice surely is outdated. However, through the years, I have come not just to appreciate, but also to really like, the sports bras out there. The question is, which one is right for YOU?
First, take into consideration your size. It goes without saying that a woman who is a 34A cup will not have to worry as much as one who is 34DD. Common sense tells us that the bigger they are, the harder they bounce. And you ladies know what Im talking about if youve ever bounced around sans sports bras.
Small to average sized women have many choices in sports bras. Larger woman have fewer but the market is growing and catching up and there are some great styles out there for you extra endowed (read: lucky) women.
The first thing that you have to think about is what exercise(s) you will be doing on a regular basis. Will you be strolling in the park? Running? Aerobics? Weight lifting? Yoga? Just as there are countless ways to get into shape, there are sports bras to fit your needs.
Most good sports bras come with an MCR rating or Motion Control Rating. This is the level of activity that should be done while wearing a particular bra. A low MCR sports bra is great for walking, low impact workouts, yoga, and other workouts that dont produce that booby bounce that we have all experienced from time to time. These come in a variety of colors and styles and are relatively inexpensive. They may or may not have cups and may come in sizes S, M, L and XL or in bra sizes. If you do a lot of low impact working out, invest in a few good low MCR sports bras. You need them to keep your upper body stable and even your back benefits from wearing them. Refrain from picking up $4.00 cheapies that really are made for bed or for looks but not really working out. They do nothing but squash you and feel uncomfortable.
If you are into medium impact sports like aerobics, fast walking, dancing, weight lifting, and anything where you find yourself bouncing around but not intensely, you need a Medium Impact sports bra. These are a lot more confining than the low impact ones but you need it. Most are made with cups and go by bra size. You can buy half tops and camis, T-Backs and straight backs, and all the colors you want. Finding a Medium Impact bra that works for you is a challenge but, once you find it, youll wonder how you ever worked out without it on.
Champion Catalog is my source for sports bras and, luckily, they separate their bras into MCR and even activity so you can best pick the kind you need. Definitely go to a website and look at the styles you need for your activity. You dont have to buy a sports bra online, but getting a good look at the styles and the features will help you when you are in the store surrounded by sports bras.
Do you want to wear a top over the bra or do you want the bra to be your top? They come in many styles, including really cute cami and long below the waist styles that double as outdoors tops. I wear my Mediums out all the time. Theyre sports bras and camis or tank tops in one! While this level definitely holds you in and feels like a nice tight bear hug, they are not uncomfortable. I even sleep in mine now and then (Dog ears tucked into my waistband eek).
Most of my collection of sports bras falls into the Medium Impact range. I am not big on a lot of running or jumping so I find the High Impact bras to be too binding for the level of activity I do. Still, when I wear a Medium Impact sports bra, I know it. My chest stays on my chest when I am dancing or doing aerobics and I feel very snug yet comfortable.
If youre really into sports like running, jump roping, or anything where you are bound to do a lot of bouncing, you need a High MCR sports bra. These are just as pretty and good looking as the others are but they are designed to strap those mammaries down and keep them down even when youre upside down! I am not super comfortable in most High Impact sports bras because they are so very restrictive.
Many feel like a mini mammogram when they are on but let me tell you, they do the job. When I wear a High Impact sports bra, my chest doesnt move even 1/10 of an inch. It stay totally motionless as I bounce around. There isnt a hint of bounce. These also come in many styles from half tops to tank tops and even T-shirts with the bra built right in. You dont need another layer when wearing these bras of any impact.
Dont make the mistake of getting a Medium Impact bra for high impact sports. It may be more comfortable but your chest and back will not be happy with your choice and will tell you so the next day. Runners, especially, need the support and stability that a High Impact sports bra gives. You just have to find the right style for you. Once again, I suggest looking through catalogs or around the net to get an idea of what you like. Then, when you go to the store, you can at least narrow down the choices. Once you find a High Impact sports bra that you like, get a few. Youll need them and wont want to be without them once you get used to being so restricted.
Fuller figures can find great sports bras made by Enell, Glamorise, and Champion. The same rules apply. However, larger busts need more support and you should always check the Motion Control Index to see what the bra you like is rated. You will want to be comfortable, yet secure, and have great back support as well and these designers as well as many others give that to the full figured or larger busted woman.
My sister always says its a big waste of money to buy a sports bra when she can just wear her own daily one to workout in. Au Contraire! Daily regular wear bras are made to move with you, to stretch on the straps, sides, and to often give cleavage, all of which are reasons NOT to wear your daily bra to work out in. They also often have painful underwire, chafing lace, and decorations that are great for wearing under your clothes but not great at all for working out.
Also, sports bras are made specifically for sports therefore, they wick away moisture and keep you dry as you work up a sweat. Your average bra isnt made that way and you can ruin it or, at least feel really uncomfortable, wearing it to workout in.
Sure, sports bras are an expense. So are boob lifts, physical therapy for back pain, and therapy for dealing with tucking those once full, voluptuous mammaries into your waistband.
Just as we suit up for individual sports, we must be sure what we wear under our sports clothe is suitable for our chosen activity.
I highly suggest Champions line of sports bras and Camis but there are other good makers out there who understand that women are more active these days and need different sports bras for different activities. I have a wardrobe of sports bras from Low, to Medium, to High impact levels for whatever activity I happen to engage in. While my favorites are the Medium Impacts for support, comfort, and just feeling right on me, I wear all three types depending on my activity level.
There is absolutely no harm in wearing a higher impact sports bra than is needed but there is harm in wearing a lower impact one than is needed.
With breast cancer still such a mystery, and with staving off aging such an obsession for so many of us, isnt it worth a few bucks to wear the proper sports bra for your activity and save yourself at the very least pain, sagging, and embarrassing bounce and possibly to stave off premature sagging? And who knows? Maybe keeping your breasts healthy staves off breast cancer. There is no true link to breast cancer from exercise or activity without good support but a few studies suggest that a lot of bouncing could possibly spark a gene within us that harbors that dreaded disease.
We wont know for many years if that is so or not but in the meantime, why risk it? Get a few cute, comfortable, great looking sports bras and wear them every time you work out. Make them a part of your workout like the shoes (or lack thereof) that you wear and the mat or equipment that you use.
If you need help determining what sports bra is right for you, many websites, including Champions, have charts to help you find the right MCR and type of sports bra for your activity.
Lastly, try them on! The bra you like may look great on the model but you are going to be wearing it. A sports bra should never be so uncomfortable that it feels too tight or cuts into your skin. Conversely, one should not be worn if you can hop up and down and your boobs hop too. Remember, the idea of to keep them stable so you can workout without the jiggly wigglies of bouncing boobs interfering.
While this isnt a topic many women think about when starting a new exercise program, it should be. When you pick up that cute warm up suit or yoga outfit and that pair of great athletic shoes, remember, dont leave the store or website without the right sports bra for you.
Happy exercising and may the wind always be on your back and your boobs sit high upon your chest and may the winds of destiny carry you off to dance with the stars.
Links to a few sports bras I have reviewed:
Carushka Cami Bra Top
Champion Women's Action-Tech Sports Bra
See a load of sports bra styles at my favorite sports bra retailer:
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