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The Sports Bra 411

braAttention All Women!

If you love to run, jump and play sports, lucky you! But what if your love of the active life seems to be thwarted by your own body? What if your womanly attributes tend to move at a different harmonic motion than your torso and limbs? Do you get what I'm saying here, ok, I'll spell it out...what if your tits bounce? I'll wager even Bo Derek running on the beach was secretly wishing for a good sports bra with some support for the girls.

We at Health & Beauty want every woman to feel comfortable and beautiful, and to pursue a healthy lifestyle against the many obstacles that seem to get in the way. If your bra is one of those obstacles, if it's more like a medieval torture device than a close friend, don't accept the situation. And don't let it make you stop exercising!

First of all, let's define our terms. How are Sports Bras different from Regular Bras? Basically a sports bra is constructed to encapsulate or compress the breasts towards the chest so that when you move, they don't bounce too much. Most sports bras also have the capacity to wick moisture away from the body.

A regular bra just doesn't do that, although some of them do look very sexy. A regular bra's purpose is to accentuates the shape of the breasts by "lifting and separating."

High Impact sports (running, soccer, aerobics, tennis, basketball, or CrossFit) choose a high compression sports bra, sometimes called a minimizer. The latest generation of highly engineered sport bras offer great support without squeezing the life out of you. They have structural zones of specialized fabrics to providing high levels of support both above and below the breasts, without uncomfortable underwires or extra layers. Seamless on the inside for maximum comfort and chafe-free during repetitive motion.

Lower Impact sports (walking, weight lifting, yoga, cycling, and pilates) low or moderate compression is fine.

If you're a petite gal with a smaller bra size, you can get away with a low compression bra, even for high impact sports. If you're endowed with spherical volume and gravitational challenges, then you're going to need a lot of support to minimize the movement.

Bra Sizes

Some sports bras come in actual bra sizes, like 34B, and some just come in XS, S, M, L, and XL sizes. How do you know which size to get? Chances are your t-shirt size is close but the best way to be sure? Just try it on! Apply the 6-point check before deciding which sports bra is best for you.

The six point check:

1. Check the top of the cup - If you're coming out of the top or you see a lot of cleavage, go up a cup size. Worst of all - you might have a case of 'double boob' when the top of the cup goes into the breast and therefore makes it looks like you have two boobs stacked on top of each other.

2. Check the cup sides – Look in the mirror at the area in front of the arm pit. Is your breast spilling out? If so, then you'll need to go up a cup size, or from a M to an L.

3. Check the bottom of the cup - Lift your arms up and look at the bottom of the cups. Are your breasts squeezing out of the bottom? Try to situate the bottom of the cup against your torso and under the breasts. Now go back to step 1 and start back down the list. If you arrive at number three and your bra is back to squeezing you out the bottom, this is not the bra for you.

4. Check the band - If you passed steps 1-3, its time to check out tight the band is. The rule of thumb is, ironically, to use your fingers. The 2-finger test means you can easily fit two fingers under the band on your midriff side. You want it snug, as the band is where you get most of your good support, but not too tight that it digs in.

5. Do the bounce test - Once you find a bra you think is a contender, jog in place or bounce up and down.

6. Final check. Start moving around, and really analyze how you feel. If anything is digging in, chaffing or feeling weird, it will only get worse when you are working out.

Take it from us: If you're active and do a range of sports, H&B definitely recommends that you get more than one sport bra. Sports bras go through the wringer, they get stretched out, they collect salt crystals from dried sweat, and plenty of dirt that all adds up to some yucky odors. They get washed a lot, of course, and while one is drying (best not to put them in the dryer) you still need to work out. If you want your bra to look nice longer, consider a dark color such as royal blue, rather than a white or a cream. And lastly, if you choose a high compression sports bra it may give you a "uniboob" look – but don't fret. When you're working out is not the time to "lift and separate." It's the time to be awesome!

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