I mean this quite literally. Please, forgive my rant. Earlier this week I had the most unfortunate, and unpleasant, experience at the gym. I was struggling to push myself through a 30-minute bought of running when the woman across from me began her jog. Now, I don’t mind some distraction when I’m exercising, especially when I’m doing something that gets hard fast. Running is one of them.
This distraction was of the absurd kind that only made my poor, tired brain more tired (it was not yet 0630). I swear that her sports bra was as old as she was, and not in the least bit sporty to a part of her that needs a bit of help when she runs. The elastic had run its course for sure…about 15 years ago. That is how bad this was!
Not everyone is a runner. I do not care who says it, some bodies are just built differently than others, and some joints will pitch a fit 15 minutes into a jog and continue to grumble for three days afterward. But this does not mean that we ladies ought to throw our underwire we wear for normal activities before pursuing our recreational ones. I cannot tell you how many young teenage cheerleaders I’ve told to get sports bras in order to prevent what I call “the Saggy Boob Syndrome” (SBS for short). They don’t believe me that a proper exercise bra really does reduce discomfort and breast tissue breakdown. Studies have long shown that, while pretty and sexy, underwire bras promote quicker breakdown of breast tissue than a wireless bra. Why, then, do I still see so many women wearing them to the gym?
I can only guess as to their reasons. Some probably think like I do: they’re ghastly expensive, these proper gym bras! A decent sports bra runs a lady anywhere from $35-60, and that is if you’re in the “normal” size charts. I’m willing to bed that plus-size bras cost much, much more.
Then there is the discomfort that can be associated with them. A lot of women pick the wrong bra to wear for high-intensity cardiovascular exercise. They often also pick the wrong bra to wear for yoga class. (I have made all the mistakes, and have learned how embarrassing it is to have to constantly pull up that cute little sporty top because my girls are thinking about making a surprise appearance. I have also learned how vital it is for a stiffer sports bra when doing long bouts of high-intensity cardio, like running, so I don’t feel like I need to duck tape them in place for the next few days while doing any activity whatsoever. Trust me. I’ve been there, done that, and it’s not fun or pretty.)
Here’s the deal, ladies (and gentlemen wanting to help their ladies), spend the money. Don’t buy the cheap $10 bra with some unheard of name. I also did that for years. Not only did they wear out fast but then didn’t do a great job to begin with. Since I’ve coughed up the money for these expensive purchases, I have to say that exercise has been a lot kinder to my girls. The bras last much longer–and if you can handle letting them air-dry after one workout to wear for another before washing, even longer than that; look great and hold shape. I haven’t experienced any stretch that has not returned to its former place after a wash. Plus, if you’re wearing a great sports bra, you can focus on the task at hand (usually a form of exercise or similar activity, although I like to wear them for long plane rides too), which means better results and massive exposure to those awesome endorphins that promote good mood and better self-esteem.
Interested? I hope so. Breast support is part and parcel to good breast health. So, depending on the activity you do, shop using some of these quick tips I found in a recent Whole Living magazine article (www.wholeliving.com):
1. Yoginis and those who do a lot of mind-body exercise don’t need a huge amount of support, but coverage helps one focus on the Downward-facing Dog;
2. Runners and those participating in intense cardio need support that won’t constrict breathing, and would do well to find something that wicks sweat away fast;
3. Low-impact exercisers want comfort that allows a wide range of arm motions and flattering silhouettes;
4. As breasts move across three planes, you may want to look for an encapsulated (molded) bra, particularly if you are larger;
5. Halter-style, racerback (also called T- or Y-backs), crossback (X-back) bras reduce or eliminate neck and shoulder pain, numbness, tingling in the arms, headaches, pressure on the trapezius muscles, and overall muscle tightness when compared to regular U-back or normal bra straps;
6. U-backs provide the least support but allow heat to escape;
7. Racerbacks have high anchor points that keep straps in place but cover a major sweat zone;
8. Crossbacks are best for larger breasts but may irritate trapezius muscles;
9. If you’re one to “nip-out” during class, look for a bra with removable pads or padded cups.
Personally, I prefer Under Armour and Nike bras and halter tops. I like how they limit movement. I’ve got a big thing about SBS and boob bounce. (Sorry, guys! I know you like the show, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about.) I was the girl in high school who all the guys stared at when she was running, and who got asked the questions about black eyes by those very same testosterone-driven jocks. Needless to say, I was also the girl trying to figure out a way to surgically remove my breasts without much money, pain medications, or my parents knowing.
You may not like compression, however, which some say inhibits breathing. There are a lot of bras out there, ladies. Do your research. Decide what you like for your girls. But for gosh sakes, please wear a sports bra if you exercise. You’ll save your breast tissue and skin ligaments in the long run, and prevent the guy running next to you to trip over his shoe laces, dog, treadmill, or tongue because it’s fallen out of his head, The Mask-style.
Don’t know where to look? Check out these websites as places to launch your search: