Let’s Talk Bras!
Boob spillage, slipping straps, wires that pinch, fabric that puckers, hours spent wrestling to get the damn thing on and off… as women, we’ve all had problems with poor-fitting bras at one time or another, and as a result, may have experienced back pain, neck pain, shoulder strain, and a little too much jiggle and bounce!
With some help from our friends over Brooks Running, we set out to bust common bra myths and answer your most pressing sports bra questions relating to size, fit, wear, care, lifespan and anything in between.
Lots of (lovely) lady runners responded and posted questions to our Facebook feed, which we then answered as fully as possible. Let’s take a deeper look at all the tips, tricks, dos and don’ts that came out of our Q&A session…
How do you accurately measure yourself for a sports bra? Catherine
We’d strongly recommend getting measured and fitted by a specialist. Measuring yourself can be tricky and result in poor-fitting bras. Remember that a bra should fit snuggly, to give a solid foundation to support the breast. Brooks Running abide by four fundamentals of fit –
1) The Band – Make sure the band is as snug as possible. It should not ride up and you should not be able to pull the band out more than 5cm.
2) The Cups – The breast tissue should be fully contained and centred. Any tissue that spills out the top or sides indicates the cup size is too small.
3) The Underwire – An underwire should sit on the rib cage flat against the breastbone. Any gaping in the centre indicates the need to go up a cup size.
4) The Straps – Straps should not dig into or slide off the shoulders. If support feels like it’s coming from the straps, you may need a smaller band size.
Is there any difference in support between a racer back or a U-back sports bra? Kate
The back type doesn’t determine the support level, so it’s purely down to personal preference. There’s no research out that suggests one style offers more support than another, so go with what feels best for you. Brooks offer different support levels and styles ranging from Low Impact in the Hot Shot bra to High Impact in the Juno bra.
If you have small breasts do you have to wear a sports bra? If yes, what’s the best sport bra to wear for running? Donna
YES… the breast, no matter how small moves up-down, in-out, and side-to-side during exercise (with movement anywhere between 4cm and 15cm). A sports bra protects the connective tissue (the skin and cooper’s ligaments) that are the only natural support to the breast. We’d recommend a low support level bra for an A-B cup like the Hot Shot.
Are compression or encapsulation bras better? Evelyn
Neither bra style is better than the other. They both offer support in different ways. A compression bra compresses and flattens, pushing all of the breast material against the chest wall. An encapsulation bra lifts and separates, supporting each breast individually, rather than as one mass. Support predominantly comes from the bottom band. The firmer it is, the more supportive it is. Generally, crop top style compression bras will have a lighter level of support than those sitting in the higher impact category following band/cup sizing.
How often should I renew my sports bra? Michelle
Brooks have a saying: “No bra should celebrate a birthday!” We recommend replacing your bra at the same time that you replace your shoes. It’s done the same mileage after all! You can extend the life of your bra by taking good care of it – hand-washing will prolong its life, though if it needs a good machine wash, then pop it in a laundry bag on a low heat with no detergent.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t wear the same sports bra for different activities. It comes down to comfort/what you’d like to feel from your bra. For lower impact sports like yoga, there’s no need to be completely ‘locked in’ so you may wish to opt for a low/or medium support level, reserving your high impact sports bra for running. Brooks offer different support levels so you can choose one that best suits your needs:
1) Hot Shot bra in the Low Impact category – good for yoga, strength training and for running, if you’re an A/B cup
2) Fiona bra in the Medium Impact category – good for strength training, circuits or running (A/B/C/D cups)
3) Juno bra in the High Impact category – good for any activity (B-E cups)
Are there ANY sports bras that are easy to put on? Lots of hooks and straps don’t make things easy… you need to be a bit of a contortionist! Mandy
Brooks bras have very few clips and fasteners, and put stitching only where it needs to be (no extra) for a streamlined, seamless feel. The fabric also contains ‘DriLayer’ a high-wicking, anti-chafing property that makes for an easier on/off.
Should you wear 2 sports bras (as a large busted lady)? Joan
Women should never need to wear two bras (no matter how big the boobs). There’s a solution for every runner. We’d always recommend getting measured and fitted by a specialist. For now, you can check out Brooks’ best-selling high impact sports bra – the Juno bra, whose features include odour resistance, perforated cups and front adjustable straps. If you’re larger than an E cup, Brooks have the Embody bra, a high impact option which goes up to a G cup and can be special ordered to your nearest Run4t shop.
What’s the best bra for high impact sport? Sarah
The Juno bra which has been engineered to keep your curves firmly in place, no matter what size you are or what activity you are doing! Its features include odour resistance, perforated cups and front adjustable straps.
Why are sports bras so expensive? Suzy
Sports bras have a higher price because they are a specialist piece of kit, like your running trainers. The research and development that goes into creating a comfortable sports bra is extensive (trust us)!
How much does the average sports bra cost? Jeanette
The bras we stock range between £20-£50. When you consider the level of support and comfort they provide, you get a lot of bang for your buck!
I’m currently breastfeeding. What approach/bra styles would you recommend to nursing mums? Heather
There’s a few different routes you can go down. Some women like to buy a couple of bras (one for when the breast is fullest and one for when breast is emptiest). Others stick to their sizing after feeding, as they tend not to run/exercise when the breast is fullest. Depending on your size and personal preference, the Brooks Fiona or Juno bras would work well. They have front adjustable straps which can be altered on the move and make breastfeeding a whole lot easier. If you’re planning to get measured and fitted by a specialist, then go in the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle, as the breast is at its most stable during this time.
We hope you find these answers useful! If you need more guidance, head online or in store. All female members of staff at Run4It are fully trained to carry out specialist bra fittings. Even the boys know their stuff too!