Sports Bras…Do I REALLY need one?

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The answer is Yes, you really do. I know that when you were a teen, you didn’t wear one. You played on varsity teams, rode a horse and went jogging with your regular bra. Right? And you likely did that wearing your high-top runners with little support that you bought from Woolworth’s or Zellers and all was good. But gratefully, science and technology, have come a long way since the 50’s and 60’s. In the late 70’s the first sports bra was invented by 2 women in the USA (Linda Lindahl and Polly Smith) who had an idea of breasts requiring more support during exercise. They started by sewing two jock straps together…and the rest is, as they say, history!

Goddess Soft Cup Sports Bra

No matter your size, you do need a sports bra when playing or working out. Here’s the scoop, our breasts are not muscular, there are No Muscles in the breast. They are skin, ligaments and tissues that stretch over time. Once stretched, these ligaments do not spring back. Yikes! Breasts will stretch and sag and there is no way to get the firmness back into that breast once it is stretched. When we exercise, we create over 50% more movement in the breast tissues (up, down and sideways-in fact breasts move in a figure 8 when we work out). You can image that all of that movement will eventually lead to an increase in stretch. You know as well as I do (from years of playing with Gumby and other stretch toys) when things stretch out, they tend to look ‘odd’. Let’s not do that to our breasts.

anita front closure firm support sports bra

Anita Firm Support Front Closure Sports Bra

Sports bras today have been designed for comfort and to help enhance performance. Admit it: it’s hard to perform your best when you are distracted by the bouncing and swinging of body parts. Let’s keep those breasts contained in their sports bra girls! To that end, there are certain sports bras that provide better support for specific activities. With the weather starting to get warmer and people taking their activities outside, there’s no better time than now to go over what type of sports bra you might need.

Light Impact

Light impact sports bras are typically wire free and are terrific for walking and yoga for example. They will be moisture wicking and likely antimicrobial too, they will have wider straps than your daily wear bra for comfort and they will likely have a thicker band too to keep it from slipping up while you stretch.

Medium Support

Medium support sports bras are great for your golf games for example. You will appreciate the fact that they can help to keep you cool or at the very least perspiration might not show through your clothing as much. The support from the sports bra will help with your posture and stance and also with possible neck pain due to the balance point of your body being ‘off kilter’ while leaning forward to swing. Fore! 

Full Support

Extreme or Full support sports bras are gifts sent to us by the bra-makers and sporting goods designers. They realized that we need to keep our breasts entirely encapsulated with little movement when we run or jog, play tennis or pickle ball or ride our ponies. Basketball and volleyball…don’t get me started. Let’s wear a firm bra with wider shoulder straps, with firm bands that don’t move and cause chaffing. Let’s dress for success ladies starting from the inside..out.

Prima Donna Sport Bra

Prima Donna Sport Bra "The Game"

I know that you spend a ton of time and money researching the correct footwear for your sport, the bra you’ll wear to an event, or the swimsuit you’ll take on vacation. Much like our everyday outfits and swimwear, things have to look put together. The tops with multiple colours that match the stripe in the legging that also match the laces in your shoe. How about spending some time being honest about the effects of the bra that you are wearing while working out. They’ve come a long way. They don’t have to be unattractive to perform well. They are available in a multitude of colours and prints, and some have really fun matching leg wear for workouts. Typically, the leggings are also performance driven in their fabrications offering a degree of compression to increase circulation…that’s a very good thing!

 Racerback sports bra from panache

Panache Non-Wired Sports Bra

Today’s sports bras can also allow you the option to ‘racerback’ your straps for more support and some models also allow you to adjust the shoulder straps from the front to allow for easier adjustment once the bra is on the body. Another great innovation is the fact that many of the better sports bras have slight cushioning where straps or hooks meet the skin. This creates less friction points for a pain-free workout 

 What else is new with sports bras? Many have ‘air conditioning’ built right in. No kidding. For those who often get over-heated and perspire due to exertion, check out the Anita Air or from Prima Donna the Gym which separates the breasts so well that perspiration "puddles" between the breasts are virtually non-existent.

Women with larger cups need support in their day to day life to avoid back and neck issues. This promotes good posture that can contribute to a healthy (and pain free!) neck and back. Ulla is great for the support it offers women, and it goes all the way to an I cup!

More questions we’ve been asked are:

Are they all created equally? No. A piece of stretchy material that you pull over your head is not a sports bra. It’s a piece of marketing wizardry with little substance. Your sports bra (like your daily wear bra) needs to be snug in the band, have adjustable shoulder straps and your breasts need to be supported and encapsulated all the while being comfortable to wear.

Can small breasted girls get away with not wearing one? Breast size will not determine the damage done by gravity and motion. Large and small breasted women alike can benefit from the support of a good sports bra.

Can I wear my sports bra all day long for support? You can wear it for a good long time, but we suggest that you do not wear it more than 10 hours a day as sports bras do offer some compression to help keep our breasts in place. Extended compression of any of our lymph nodes is not recommended. Fluids need to flow freely so please don’t wear your firm fitting bra 24/7

Do all sports bra give you Uni-boob? No my friend, they need not give you the dreaded uni-boob. Find a well-made wired sports bra (PrimaDonna or Anita) and you will be thrilled with the results. Your sporting clothing will look great over top and you will feel confident and secure.

How often should I wash my sports bra? If you perspire vigorously while you work out, I’d suggest you launder that bra after each wearing. Yes, this means you will likely need to own a few of them. Think about it. If we perspire into our blouse, we will want to freshen it with a washing. Today’s fabrics have superhero capabilities, and they absorb odours and bacteria …so yes, you can get away with not washing it for a week or even two. But really, do we want that next to our skin? Is it really healthy? We all like to change up our socks daily after exercise, don’t we? Let’s settle on washing regularly to keep the negative effects of perspiration away from the fabrics. Like any bra, it’s always best to hand wash it. If you cannot…please use a lingerie bag. And never put it into the dryer. Air dry it please. These bras are an investment and the elastics and lycra type fabrics will forever be altered by heat. Don’t mess up the fit by allowing it to stretch due to heat. I’m dead serious on this point. No exceptions to this rule.