Exercise is tough enough without struggling to find a sports bra in the right size, or able to support an ample chest. If you are big of boob, fear not – there are plenty of brilliant brands dedicated to making working out a walk in the park, no matter how much strapping down you require!
Why is it important to wear a sports bra?
Half of women report discomfort in their breasts during exercise, and working out without the correct support can cause permanent damage or injury. Breasts can move up and down by as much as 12% during exercise, causing ligaments to stretch. Studies have shown that wearing a decent sports bra in the correct size can make a huge difference to the amount your boobs move – a sports bra was found to reduce bounce by up to 78% compared to 38% in a normal bra.
Breasts move across three planes of motion during exercise, in a figure of eight pattern, according to a 2007 study from the University of Portsmouth. Further studies found that running at higher speeds created different requirements from a bra, so if you’re a speedy runner it’s worth investing in a specialist, high impact bra.
Sports bras are sturdier and provide a higher level of support than day-to-day bras, meaning you’re less likely to sustain damage to your chest ligaments or back.
The first sports bra was created in 1975 and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds since then.
What should I look for in a sports bra?
- Wide shoulder straps are a must for a bigger bust, as they won’t dig in as you work out.
- Adjustable straps are also essential, as your breast size may alter slightly throughout the month, so it’s important you can tweak the size of your bra easily.
- You’ll also want a band that’s slightly snugger than your usual brads, and ideally wide to spread the pressure out.
- When on, the cups should be smooth with no wrinkles.
- Sports bras should ideally be made from a technical, sweat-wicking fabric to stop chafing.
- Avoid any bras with seams on the cups, as these will irritate you once you start to sweat.
- Try running on the spot as you try on your bra, to see how much movement occurs and how comfortable it feels.
Many sports shops offer specialist sports bra fittings for free, so if in doubt about your size, it’s worth fixing up an appointment.
Do I need a bra for light, moderate or high impact exercise?
Different bras offer different levels of support. Bras for light exercise are great for gentle classes such as yoga or Pilates. Medium or moderate bras are for exercise with low levels of bounce, such as cycling or hiking. Intense classes, horse riding and running require a high impact bra with maximum support.
How long does a sports bra last?
It’s slightly heartbreaking, given that they aren’t cheap, but sports bras don’t last as long as you might like. The combination of frequent washing, sweat and hard exercise causes them to lose elasticity and show wear and tear within a year. How long you can keep yours depends on how often you wear it, and if you have multiple bras, try to alternate them to keep them lasting longer. Wash in a lingerie bag or net to keep them safe in the machine, or hand wash.
The best sports bras for larger sizes
Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra
(RRP £43, Shock Absorber)
We’re big fans of Shock Absorber, and this beauty is designed for runners of all shapes and sizes – ranging from 30A to 38G. Its Infinity-8 support system is designed to counteract the breasts’ figure of eight movement during running, and it’s made of breathable fabric.
Triumph Tri-Action Workout Bra
Designed for high impact sports, this bra is a best-seller thanks to its great levels of support and easy Velcro adjusters on the straps.
Bravissimo Inspire Sports Bra
Underwired with a full cup, this bra is great for high impact sports such as running and horse riding. Available from 30F to 38K.
M&S Collection Zipped Front Extra High Impact Sports Bra
This zippy-fronted bra is super easy to get on and off, and has wide straps to protect your shoulders from pressure. Plus it’s pretty enough to wear without a top if you’re feeling confident. Available from 34A to 36G.
Simply Be High Impact Zip Front Sports Bra
(£20, Simply Be)
A bargain bra in a wide range of sizes starting at 36C and going up to an H cup. We love a zip-front bra for its total ease – no struggling around in the changing room anymore!
Shock Absorber D+ Max Sports Bra
Made especially for D cup and over (up to H) this non-wired bra is comfortable and made of quick-dry fabric.
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