Was your new year resolution to get fit or be more active? Whether this was gym membership, a promise to go running or just to make your walks round the park more energetic, a good sports bra is vital. In fact, nothing will make your boobs sag faster (breastfeeding included) than exercising without the right support.
It is actually is a feat of modern engineering to create a good bra, and the University of Portsmouth have a research group on on breast health as part of their Department of Sport and Exercise Science. They use motion capture to study the movement of breasts during various activities to improve the understanding of what is needed in a good bra. Not that I’d accept my other half saying he wasn’t staring, he was just analysing the motion of the mammary tissue.
Although we have discussed the importance of a good fit before, here is a video specific to your needs when choosing a one for sport, created in conjunction with the University of Portsmouth.
There are two basic types of sports bra, ones that press everything in, and those that give support. They are given the posh titles of compression and encapsulation, respectively. Which is right for you depends on personal choice, the activity being undertaken and cup size. In general the encapsulation gives more support so I’d recommended it for the higher impact activities and/or larger cup sizes even if you weren’t nursing. Compression is of course something to consider carefully because of the risk of blocked ducts and reducing supply.
If you are are one of the more unusual sizes, you may look at ordering online. I’d highly recommend doing a click and collect at a department store, try them on while you are there, and even get a fitting consultant to check them with you. You can return anything that isn’t suitable. That way you won’t feel pressurised into taking something that isn’t right. John Lewis is well respected for helping in this way.
The video talks about jumping up and down in the changing room, and yes, I feel like a fool doing it, but I’d rather find out the bra wasn’t suitable before I bought it. Also, a bra that is great for running (lots of bounce but a basic arm movement) may not be great for netball or Zumba (wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care). You may also wonder what level of support to go for – I’d suggest if in doubt go for a higher impact because you can still wear it for the less intense activities.
We regularly get requests for nursing sport bras, and they are available on the market, for example this one from La Leche League. Reviewers like the support and ease of nursing, but the inability to alter straps means it may not be the first choice for petite ladies, or those with short torsos.
I have not needed a specific nursing bra, mostly because going to the gym is my ‘me’ time and baby spends the time with Daddy or Grandma. But there tends to be little features in Sports Bras that makes boob access easier than you’d imagine.
For example the front loader, such as this one from Shock Absorber.
I really rate Shock Absorber Bras, for comfort, breathability and durability, although they are typically £40 each. I have picked up a bargain at outlet store once and similarly, some online retailers do end of range stock but be warned the sizing does seem to come up small. A good example is the discontinued Dry Advantage Sports Bra. Which also comes with another feature, straps which are adjustble by detatching at the front, almost exactly like a nursing bra. During a visit to my local shopping centre today I found bras like this in short supply, but they are out there, if you have the inclination to rummage, either in real life or online.
My personal preference is for a double back so you can open the bottom fastening and lift the cup up. Here is an extra supportive underwired one from M&S. And yes wires are still OK even when nursing, provided they fit well. It is also worth noting that a different style M&S bra in the same size was far too long in the strap for me with no means of adjusting it. Great because we all come in different shapes and sizes, but also a reminder to always check the fit.
When researching for this blog I came across a Freya bra available through Debenhams. Although not a style I would immediately go for – too similar to a traditional bra to give the support I like; the reviewers loved it, particularly as one to wear all day. One in fact thought it was perfect as a maternity bra.
A few more tips to help make your exercise regime a success. Some washable breast pads, even Boots’ own brand, are worth using. Not so much for catching leaks, but to give a little extra padding. You don’t want jogger’s nipple at the best of times. I felt like a fembot with protruding nipples, so wanted to tone it down a little.
Secondly, don’t rush to buy designer clothes. My favourite cropped leggings were £7 in the supermarket, came with breathable mesh, zippable pocket for my mp3 or keys and a nice thick waistband to help keep the wobbly bits in place. Keep it to one or two essentials until you know what you like and you can look forward to getting something special once you have reached your first goals.
I bought a heart rate monitor for £20. If you want to, you can spend a heck of a lot more, but I found it a great way to check whether I was exercising at the best rate to lose fat, or to improve cardio-fitness. You can go extra geeky and calculate calorie consumption, monitor your progession or track whether you have run far enough to reach Australia.
Yes, it is really intimidating going to the gym, particularly as a newbie, but no one will laugh at you. No, we are laughing at the body builders whose thighs are smaller than their necks. The guy checking his biceps in the mirror but who can’t do a basic sit up. Average Joe or Joanna just wanting to improve their health, come train with me so we can mock the ego lifters together.
Finally, long trousers. Once your good intentions have started to wane, and the reasons….ahem excuses for not exercising will start to mount. It is hard work finding the energy and time to exercise when most of us are sleep deprived, fitting home, work and parenthood into an increasingly short day. The ten minutes or so needed to shave………..do I have to?