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What’s the first thing you think about when you get ready to go to practice or workout? The right shoes? Which shorts or jersey to wear?

All important stuff. But not as important as the right sports bra. Let’s face it, no matter what other gear you’ve got, without the right bra, things won’t go well. Out-of-sight is never out-of-mind if the bra isn’t just right.

Many young women feel that their regular bra – or worse, no bra at all – is just fine. Not!

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 isn’t made that way and you can ruin it or at least feel really uncomfortable wearing it to workout in.

Which Bra is Right for YOU?

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. You want your chest to stay on your chest when dancing or doing aerobics and feel very snug yet comfortable.

With all the different styles these days, you’ll need to figure out your needs based on your activity and your size, as well as your personal style.

Studies have found that 70% of women do not know their proper bra size. This can be detrimental for female athletes because when it comes to sports bras, size does matter and an ill-fitting bra can result in chafing, upper back and neck strain and, horror of horrors, saggy boobs.

It goes without saying that someone 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 know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever bounced around sans sports bras. Be honest about your sizes, both cup and rib, because some styles are not suited for some people.

Measuring tips

  • Remove any bulky clothing
  • Stand in front of a mirror, wearing a regular bra with minimal padding
  • Always measure in centimetres with an unstretched measuring tape
  • Keep the tape at the same level all around your torso
  • To find your over bust measurement:
  • Measure around the fullest part of your bust
  • The tape measure must not cut into the bust

To find your bra size, measure around your chest just under your breasts and add five inches. To determine your cup size, measure around your chest over the fullest part of your breasts. If this measurement is 1″ larger, you’re probably an A cup, 2″ = B cup, 3″ = C cup and so on.

Bounce Control
To figure out how much control you need, think about your activity. Runners need more control than walkers. Snowshoers need more than ice-skaters. Mogul-jumping downhillers need more than cross-country-skiers. Basketball players need more than cyclists. You get the picture.

Most good sports bras come with an “MCR rating” or Motion Control Rating. A low MCR sports bra is great for walking, low impact workouts, yoga, and other workouts that don’t produce a lot of booby bounce.

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.

If you’re 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 girls down and keep them down even when you’re upside down.

Don’t make the mistake of getting a Medium Impact bra for high impact sports. Runners, especially, need the support and stability that a High Impact sports bra gives.

Shape & Style
Today sports bra manufacturers use space age technology to protect your assets. This is great because it means that you don’t have to compromise on comfort and support when you buy a fashionable bra. There are two basic styles of sports bras: “compression” and “encapsulation.” To put it bluntly, smooshed or shaped.

Compression styles

  • Usually pull-over style
  • Squash the breasts close to the chest to minimize motion
  • Offer the most bounce control
  • Have no cups
  • Offer less restriction of vertical movement
  • Are best suited to small breasts (size A cups)
  • Are best for lower impact activities
  • Downside: Can give you the uni-boob look

Encapsulation styles

  • Look like normal bras
  • Have separate cups that support breasts individually from underneath
  • Are made according to the theory that two small masses are easier to control than one large mass
  • Give a more natural, feminine shape
  • Underwire and a firm chest band can add extra support
  • Are best suited to large breasts (sizes C and up)
  • Are best for higher impact activities
  • Downside: often include additional straps and/or underwires

Back Style
The racerback or T-back sports bra is a favorite for those with larger breasts. By choosing this style, you can eliminate the painful chafing caused by straps.
If you do choose to stick to a sports bra that looks like a normal bra, go for one with a scoop back style, as this will provide more comfort and support. Racerbacks allow better movement, but can be harder to get on and off.

Traditional hook closures can be at the front or back of the bra and make taking a bra on and off a lot easier than styles that you pull on over your head.
If you do a lot of floor work at gym or like to run with a back pack on, go for a sports bra that has hooks on the side or front and not on the back.

Let’s face it. There’s nothing worse than a wet, smelly bra that leaves sweaty headlights on the front of your T-shirt. Wearing your old cotton or nylon bra might be economical, but it doesn’t have the technical benefits of a bra made from performance fabrics.

A pure cotton sports bra will stay wet and uncomfortable during exercise. Performance fabrics such as polyester, polypropylene, acrylic or nylon, can be blended, finished, woven, or designed to create properties such as wicking, softness, stretch, or warmth. Sports bra manufacturers retain a percentage of cotton in their products because it’s more comfortable, but then they mix it with “breathable” fabrics such as polyester, lycra mesh or nylon that can wick the moisture away.

Many top companies, such as Champion, Adidas and Nike, line bras with a fabric such as Coolmax or Supplex to absorb and wick sweat away from your body. Sweat not only gives you a chill if it stays next to you, but can increase chafing.

Finally, try the bra on! It may look great on the model but you are the one who’s 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.

Consider these fit tips when trying on a bra:

  • The cup should completely contain the breast. If you’re bulging out of the tops or sides, the bra is too small.
  • Take some deep breaths. The bra should be snug but not constricting.
  • Does the bra cut into the skin near your armpit? You might want to try a different style, because armhole chafing is a common sports bra complaint.
  • If you’re wearing an encapsulation model bra, the center piece should lie down next to your breast bone.
  • If it’s away from your body, you should try a larger cup size.
  • If the back of the bra rides up, you may want to consider a smaller size.

Care Label
Sports bras have high elasticity content so it’s better to hand wash and air-dry them than machine wash and tumble dry them. Even though they are heavy duty, you should care for them as you would fine lingerie.

November 21, 2007

Bounce Control – Choosing the Right Sports Bra

What’s the first thing you think about when you get ready to go to practice or workout? The right shoes? Which shorts or jersey to wear? […]