Whilst sport creates general health, fitness and wellbeing, it vastly increases the demands and stresses on the body. The more intense the exercise, the more important it is to protect especially your bust line by supporting it firmly and comfortably in its correct shape and position. Remember, when you run, your breasts move in a repetitive figure of eight pattern. This continuous up and down and side-to-side movement can cause rubbing and chafing.
“Breasts should never be allowed to bounce, because this stretches the skin and tissue, causing irreparable damage. Correct bra size, high-tech design and superior fabrications are imperative in order to avoid premature sagging and the risk of damage during workouts, whilst still allowing comfort and freedom of movement,” says Belinda Reid, Merchandise Director at Triumph International.
KNOW YOUR ACTIVITY LEVEL
Most good sport bras these days provide a guide on the bra’s labelling to help you select the right sport bra for your chosen activity. Remember, the bra you use for running will most likely not be the same bra you use for your yoga workout. When selecting a sport bra, firstly know your activity level:
• Low Impact: This includes activities such as yoga, walking and Pilates.
• Medium Impact: This could be activities such as cycling, spinning and light jogging.
• High Impact: This includes sport such as aerobics, hockey, netball and tennis.
• Extreme Impact: This includes running, triathlons and horse riding.
KNOW YOUR SHAPE
So, you are in the shops and some sport bras look like crop tops and other like normal bras. Which is best? Consider the following:
• Compression bras usually look like crop tops and work well for small to medium busted women. They minimise movement by pressing the bust against the rib cage.
• Encapsulated bras work best for fuller busted women. They resemble regular bras and offer even more support. Some have under-wire for added bust shaping.
• Adjustable encapsulation bras provide maximum support for the fuller busted runner. These bra types incorporate encapsulation, a wide adjustable under-band and wider adjustable straps to create a custom fit and total support.
PUTTING THEM TO THE TEST
A sport bra is a very individual piece of gear and it is ultimately only YOU that can make the right decision in terms of comfort, fit and your chosen activity. We tested each bra by running with it, then we rated it in terms of comfort, fit, looks and most importantly, of course, the ‘bounce’ rate.
Style: Ergonomic Madison Sports Bra
• Short crop top with double-breast area.
• Mesh structures and firm back X-cut to provide medium support during exercise.
• 95% Polyamide, 5% Elastane
This bra’s best feature is its’ superb comfort! It feels so soft and comfortable against your skin that I am tempted to wear it everyday under my work clothes. This is a medium support bra as FALKE only offers medium support running bra’s in their range, which means it is definitely not for bigger busted athletes, but would be perfect for small busted women. I found that even small busted women might still experience a certain degree of ‘bounce’ rate, especially when running hard. It can definitely be worn by athletes of all sizes when doing light activities such as yoga, Pilates and spinning. A great looking bra that is ideal for ‘lighter’ activities and ideal in doubling up as an everyday bra. (REVIEWED BY MICHELLE PIETERS)
Retails for R359.95 exclusively at select Sportsmans Warehouse stores.
Style 1: Seamless Crop Top
• The black label on this garment identifies it as a perfect piece of gear for high impact sport such as netball, hockey and tennis.
• Moisture-absorbent fabric draws moisture away from the skin.
• Widened straps prevent chafing.
• Firm under-band elastic to prevent riding up.
• Racer back styling for freedom of movement.
• Double layered for extra support.
Triaction by Triumph has developed the ‘actiometer’ that provides a guide in selecting the most suitable sports bra for a specific activity and the range comprehensively covers all impact zones. The labels are colour-coded to clearly identify the level of support required.
I found this bra comfortable and strong. With separate support for each breast, this bra allows minimal bouncing when you’re running hard. Your breasts are not bunched together so tightly that it feels like you’ve wrapped yourself in strapping, but there is more than enough support to give you a comfortable and smooth run. Chances of chafing are greatly reduced because there aren’t any seams to cause irritation, and the straps across the back provide further support. Beware not to buy it too small as the straps can start eating into your neck and shoulders if you do. You can also adjust the bra size with a clasp at the back, always handy when you have a big ribcage. Highly recommended for anyone doing any kind of high impact sports, but its also comfortable enough to wear when you’re on the spinning bike or the yoga mat. (REVIEWED BY CATHARINA ROBBERTZE)
Retails for R279.95 at Totalsports, Sportsmans Warehouse and selected Edgars stores.
Style 2: Triaction No Bounce
• The black label on this garment identifies it as a perfect piece of gear for maximum support, so it’s ideal for running.
• Moisture-management properties.
• Comfortable shoulder straps to prevent garment cutting into the shoulders.
• Firm under-band elastic to prevent riding up.
• Advanced shaping and specialised design.
Triaction’s Summer 2011 campaign sees a shift away from the lifestyle sportswoman to appeal to the more serious consumer. The Triaction’s No Bounce bra is an absolutely superb bra, both in terms of fit and comfort as well ‘bounce’ rate. When I first put it on, it felt extremely comfortable, with very firm support but without squashing my breasts against my ribcage. It has separate support for each breast. One of the great features is its wide, soft shoulder straps, which means no riding up or straps eating into your shoulders, nor chafing. Whilst running there was virtually no bounce and even when sprinting it felt exactly the same. One of the great features is that this is the type of bra that you can wear on and off the sports field. It will definitely look great under T-shirts. Great value for money combined with comfort and no bounce makes this one the Modern Athlete Choice Award of the month! (REVIEWED BY MICHELLE PIETERS)
Retails for R179.95 at Totalsports, Sportsmans Warehouse and selected Edgars stores.
Style 1: Supernova miCoach
• Smooth, seamless, supportive.
• Features CLIMALITE technology for excellent moisture transport which will keep you comfortable at all times.
• Compatible with the miCoach heart rate monitor.
If you’re not too well-endowed but still looking for extreme support, you don’t have to look much further than this one. The adidas Supernova miCoach adopts the strategy of a compression bra and holds everything together very tightly. When running, there is absolutely no bouncing around, but the fact that everything is so tight could lead to some chafing on long runs. The thick straps are comfy and provide even more support and it’s pretty enough that you won’t get any strange looks if you use it as a crop top. If you’re big-boned or well-endowed, move along, but if you’re quite petite, the adidas is an ideal option. (REVIEWED BY CATHARINA ROBBERTZE)
Retails for R449 at Sportsmans Warehouse, Sweatshop, adidas Retail and Rashid Cassim Sports.
Style 2: Supernova Racer Bra
• High impact support.
• Climalite fabric and Climacool provides heat- and moisture-management through ventilation that considers women’s specific sweat zones.
• Lightweight printed stripes for freedom of movement.
At first sight, this bra looked too pretty to be functional and I had my doubts that it would stop the dreaded bounce. How wrong was I! This is a great running bra that not only provides superb comfort, but also holds everything firmly in place without pushing your breasts flat against your chest. The bra is encapsulated, which means not only does it look great, but it also provides superb support for each breast. I found the racer back style and straps soft and comfortable without eating into my shoulders or chafing. In terms of looks it scores sky high and you can comfortably change your wet running T-shirt after a race without it looking like a bra. (REVIEWED BY MICHELLE PIETERS)
Retails at R399 at Totalsports and Sportsmans Warehouse
Style: The RUN Bra
• Absolute support.
• Friction-free comfort.
• Quick-dry moisture-wicked chest band minimises sweat collection and key hot spots.
• Seamless, soft inner reduces rubbing, chafing and repetitive friction injury.
• Wide, seamless, non-slip, fully-adjustable, padded straps with advanced technology.
• Fully back-opening for easy on and off.
• High performance fabrics and breathable mesh zones keep the body cool.
• Cushioned hook and eye for comfort.
• Reflective tape across cups gives high visibility when running outdoors
• During industrial testing, a reduction of up to 78% bounce was calculated, giving you a more focused running bra for a more focused performance.
This sports bra is unlike any other I have every worn. Usually I can still feel my breasts bouncing in my sports bra, but with the RUN Bra I’m not even aware of them being there, never mind moving. Although the bra gives brilliant support, it isn’t constricting or uncomfortable; on the contrary, the wide, seamless, non-slip, fully-adjustable, padded straps are so comfortable, I was really able to concentrate more on my running performance than on any discomfort my body usually experiences. It looks good, too, so you can wear it on its own. (REVIEWED BY LORI BOOTH)
Retails for R549.95 at Sportsmans Warehouse.