Invest in Your Breasts: Buy the Best Sports Bra

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

According to an international exercise expert, sports bras should be required athletic equipment for all young girls. But are all sports bras created equally? And what is the best sports bra?

Dr. Joanna Scurr of the University of Portsmouth, studies breast movement during physical activity and found that discomfort and serious physical damage can result if women don't wear the best sports bra.

If adolescent girls are at risk, imagine the challenges faced by older, or more full-busted athletes. Romanian tennis star Simona Halep opted for breast reduction surgery to reduce her pain and improve her swing. The result? She moved up 450 places in world tennis rankings. No big surprise, given that a pair of DD boobs can add an extra 12 pounds to a woman's frame. But Dr. Scurr's research applies to women of all cup sizes. Pain and suffering are caused by our breasts in motion. Pick the smallest cup option on Shock Absorber's sports bra running simulator, and the computer generated results show more bounce in your boobs than in your step.

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Nearly 70% of women who exercise on a regular basis don't wear a sports bra. I never wore one in my high school gym class. They didn't exist as a separate bra category until long after my graduation. Now I wouldn't hit the treadmill without one. But I still have a hard time shelling out big bucks for this requisite piece of sports gear.

It may also have something to do with the way some of these bras are sold. I recently visited my local sports store to buy a new pair of running shoes. There were walls and walls of neatly displayed footwear, categorized by specific activity. The salesperson insisted on measuring me, even though I knew my shoe size. Several clerks watched me walk up and down the aisles to determine the best style for my gait. After trying on numerous models, and testing each by running in place, I found the perfect pair.

I then asked to see their sports bras. What they had to offer was crammed tightly onto a steel, circular merchandise rack. Rather than arranged by cup and band size, they were organized by small, medium, and large. The salesperson asked my size (with no offer to measure me) and handed me those she thought might fit. Because I knew what I needed, I choose a couple of well-known brands and headed for the cashier. As a result, I invested much less time and effort in buying a $45 sports bra than I did in a $90 pair of running shoes.

Dr. Scurr's research shows that encapsulating sports bras offer women the best breast support.  That's one where each boob is contained in its own separate space, as opposed to compression styles that result in a uni-boob look. Since active breasts move in a figure 8 pattern, and not just up and down, distinct compartments minimize motion.

That's why I walked out of the mall with this Under Armour Endure Sports Bra. It offered racer back fashion with separate, padded cups to hold each of "my girls" in place. The young sales associate assured me that a medium would meet my 34D needs. Wrong. I brought it home and could barely get it over my head, much less my ample bosom. I shared this news with my running buddy, who offered to test it on her smaller chest. Sure enough, it fit her perfectly and she highly recommends this model. As for me, I went on-line and bought two of a brand I once owned and dearly loved. I didn't mind spending the extra money to get what I deserved.

What about you? Do you wear a sports bra? Where do you buy them? How much do you invest in your breast assets?

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