By Bari Lieberman, SELF magazine
Do you suffer from EIBD (exercise-induced breast discomfort)? Don't worry if you do; you're in the majority. A 2007 study found that more than 50 percent of women report breast pain during exercise, and with good reason. Researchers found that breasts can bounce up to 21cm during a workout.
"Whether you're a jogger, a dancer, a kick boxer or a yoga enthusiast, you need a well-fitting sports bra that keeps your breasts firmly in place during any activity-even if you're a small-breasted woman," says Jene Luciani (pictured), author of The Bra Book: The Fashion Formula to Finding the Perfect Bra and Fashion Correspondent for NBC's Today.
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Sports bras generally come in two basic designs; "Encapsulation bras are constructed with two cups (just like typical bras) while in the compression style, your breasts are pressed together, flat against your chest, in an attempt to reduce motion," Luciani says. And according to the 2007 study, encapsulation bras are the best at reducing movement for every cup size.
To find your perfect fit, look for these features in your sports bra:
Problem: I have a case of chafing.
Solution: Pick the right fabric. "The fabric you choose also has an impact on the comfort and effectiveness of the sports bra - most are designed to wick moisture away from the body but you can choose one that also goes a step further by preventing chafing and all-around discomfort," Luciani says. Read the tag (and check out Luciani's fabric breakdown below) to see what's in your cup.
1. Polyester/Cotton - A classic blend that provides gentle softness and powerful moisture management.
2. Cotton/Lycra Spandex - This combination of soft, moisture-managing cotton and shape-retaining Lycra has just the right amount of stretch and support.
3. CoolMax Polyester/Lycra Spandex - This high-performance fabric blend delivers you all the moisture-wicking benefits of CoolMax plus the comfort, stretch and shape retention of Lycra.
4. Polyester/Cotton/Lycra Spandex - This three-fiber blend offers polyester and cotton for softness and moisture management while Lycra provides optimal fit and support.
5. Supplex Nylon/Lycra Spandex - This blend offers a soft, luxurious feel and good fit, support and shape retention.
Problem: I have a big chest and want to minimize bounce.
Solution: Have a go-to support system. "Look for extra support features, like double layer cups or an extra sling that adds support to a specific area of the cup to help lift the breast. Make sure the cup encloses the whole breast for best total support and comfort," says Haidee Johnstone, Senior Vice President and Director of Design of Leading Lady, an intimate apparel company specializing in full-figure bras.
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Problem: Spaghetti-thin, racerback... how do I know which style is for me?
Solution: Make a strap adjustment. "I believe it is important to vary the width of straps as the size of the cup increases. It is important to evenly distribute the weight of a woman's breast on her shoulders," Johnstone says. An easy test it to try on the sports bra and jump up and down a few times in the dressing room Luciani advises. "You may look a little crazy but you'll accurately determine if the bra gives you the necessary support needed for physical activity. Look for wider shoulder straps for increased support."
Problem: Things feel like things are starting to sag
Solution: Know when to say goodbye. "Because of wear and tear, sports bras should also be replaced at least every year, depending on how much use they get. Tell-tale signs are if the elastic is stretched out and no longer flush against your rib cage or if you notice increased breast motion or pilling on the fabric of the bra," Luciani says.
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Photo Credit:Condé Nast Digital Studio