There are two essential must-haves for a female runner – a good sports bra and a pair of good running shoes – nothing else matters. Whether you want to wear running tracks, tights, shorts, skirts, cotton tee, racer backs, dri fits – all depends on your sensibilities, weather, place, event, whether you want to look cute, sexy, no-nonsense or just be practical etc.
Needless to say that I have burned my fingers on both accounts. Like most Indian women, I’m top heavy, despite my petite frame. I experienced a lot of pain (and bobbing!) when I started running in regular lingerie and picked up an encapsulation bra (these support each breast like everyday bras for but are geared for larger breasted runners). It definitely felt better than lingerie but my shoulders got chafed after each long run. I also started experiencing a sharp pinching pain on my rib where the thick band encased my lower chest. Considering I also had a fracture in the same area, I never attributed it to the bra. How could a piece of elastic band (which didn’t even feel too tight) cause so much pain?
I finally figured it can, did my research, and changed the brand of my sports bra – a compression bra this time around. These provide support by pressing the breasts against the chest. Sports bras are expensive but consider them as an investment. I compensate for that expense by not spending a bomb on running tees – I almost always run in the tees I get at various running events I participate in. And here is my two bits on how to choose the right support system –
A good sports bra should feel comfortable on, stay in place, and not chafe. The straps should not dig into the shoulders and the band around the lower chest should not shift or bind.
However silly it might sound but do jumping jacks, run in place, and swing your arms side to side to make sure what feels good on is comfortable and supportive when you’re in motion. Keep in mind that a good sports bra should fit more snugly than a lingerie bra to provide you with support, but should not be uncomfortable or restrict movement or breathing.
Look for breathable synthetic fabrics that have a gentle supportive stretch, they also help to minimize chaffing. Stay away from cotton and any sports bra with a zipper and rough seams.
It’s also very important to replace your sports bra every year, specially if you are using it frequently. As we exercise, our breast size also changes. It’s important to have a good support at all times.
Happy running 🙂