Are your Boobs Holding you Back?

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Illustration by Paul Petch.

Illustration by Paul Petch.

If you are reading this via Good People Run then I am probably preaching to the converted. It’s highly likely that you are already a fan of the super sport that is running and have found a way to take part comfortably. However, despite an increase in how active Kiwi women are becoming, some are still being held back. Not by money, time or other commitments…but by their boobs.

Big boobs, small boobs, It doesn’t matter.. there’s no escaping the fact that when we run (or take part in any form of exercise) our boobs will move and this can be extremely uncomfortable and in some cases can cause physical pain. Sadly, being the internet age, we also live in a time where “woman running with boobs” is considered sexy or funny depending what floats your boat (Thanks, You Tube). I was 14 years old when my boobs graced me with their presence. One summer at high school, we were doing athletics out on the track running 400’s in groups. As the group I was in rounded the bend to approach the final 100, I noticed the rest of the boys and girls in my class standing near the finish line watching us come in. I was so mortified at how much my boobs were bouncing as I was running that I pretended to pass out. My teacher thought I had an eating disorder and wasn’t eating enough, but sadly, I was just embarrassed by my boobs and worried about being the butt of my classmates’ jokes. It was the same for my boss, Claire. She was an excellent athlete at school and represented her region in running, but gave it all up at age 15 when the discomfort and embarrassment of having no proper bust support became unbearable for her. Fast forward 15 years and both Claire and I are now avid runners. What changed? We discovered good sports bras.

As a professional bra fitter, I am pretty well qualified to say that A LOT of women wear the wrong bra size. Wearing a size too large or too small is bad enough, but I have also met women who favour wearing regular bras for exer cise instead of sports bras. Worse still, I’ve met women who have to ‘double up’ by wearing 2 or more bras to keep the ‘ladies’ strapped in during exercise. It’s unnecessary. These days, whole organisations are dedicated to the research and testing of sports bras and active wear. Infra-red imaging is being used to determine how much movement there is for different sized boobs at different activity levels. 3D motion capture sensors used in the film industry are being used to determine which direction boobs will move in during exercise. New snazzy fabrics have been developed which will wick moisture away from your body, keeping you cool and dry as your temperature rises whilst also remaining lightweight, breathable and flexible. And all of this research and wizardry is factored into the wonder garment that is the modern sports bra…it’s come a long way from its humble beginnings as two jock straps sewn together! All of this is fantastic news because wearing a good sports bra not only benefits us by removing discomfort and pain during exercise-it also helps to prevent irreversible boob sag. The inside of our boobs are made up of fatty tissue and ligaments which connect the tissue to the layer of skin that contains our pectoral muscle (contrary to popular belief, no actual muscle is located within the breast). If our boobs are not adequately supported and are bouncing around all over the place, the ligaments on the inside will stretch and the only way to tighten them is with surgery. If that’s not enough motivation to invest in a good sports bra I don’t know what is.

So, how do you get your hands on one of these magical contraptions? Get professionally fitted. Specialist stores have fully trained staff who know the bras and will offer a wide selection so you have lots to try. They will also make sure that the bra is fitting you correctly. Different bras will all fit differently so you may find you need a different size in your sports bra. I own 4 different sports bras and wear them for different activities….I have 2 for running which are both 10FF’s, one for the gym which is a 12F and one for salsa dance which is an 8G. I know they all fit perfectly because that’s my job! Have an open mind. The top selling sports bra in our store has no under-wire which often puts people off- so be open minded to trying all different types of bras to determine which will work best for you. Bounce. Once you know the bra is the correct size- bounce around in it. It’s the hands down best way to test a sports bra.

Then once you have found the sports bra for you, get out there and run or dance or cross train or walk or climb or play netball, hockey, tennis- anything you like! Running (and exercise in general) is so beneficial to us in so many ways- health, fitness, mindfulness, confidence. As women, after decades of being told what we should look like and how we should act by the mainstream media, we are now starting to appreciate that there is no ‘ideal body type’ and that if we want to go running or take part in sport, we can. So, ladies… embrace your lovely boobs; hold them firm in an awesome bra and get out there and run!

And for some sound advice on gettting the right bra for sports and a professional fitting head to: www.ruun.co.nz or read more at the Avokado blog.

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Michelle Saint

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