Your breast movement can greatly affect your running experience. Too much bounce and you will be uncomfortable and in pain, or if you’re too restricted and compressed, you may feel worse. Whether you’re a AA or a DDDD, any woman can experience breast pain when she runs, so a well-fitted bra will can minimize discomfort and put your focus on your run.
Dr. Joanna Scurr, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, studies the biomechanics of the breast while running and has determined that the breast moves in nearly every direction while a woman runs, no matter the cup size. So it is logical that a supportive bra would reduce the amount of movement, enabling a more comfortable run. Running can cause breasts to sag if your bra is not supportive, and with so many other things already causing saggy breasts (genetics, age, and those adorable kids you birthed and fed), why add another to the list?
Look for the following qualities when shopping for bras:
• High MCR (motion control rating) bras: Most exercise bras are rated for the amount of exercise bounce they can endure. For example, a low MCR rating would be suitable for yoga or Pilates, but when running you want to keep the bounce to a minimum, no matter what your size so opt for a High MCR rating. • Bras that encapsulate each breast in a separate chamber: This will reduce bounce and is recommended for B-cups and larger. If you are medium to large breasted, then avoid compression type bras that mush your breasts together. • Bras that come in cup and band sizes: Look for your bra size versus just small, medium, or large, as these types of bra are designed to fit your chest size more precisely. • Comfort: Try on several different styles to determine what is most comfortable for you. Check seams, hooks, and straps, and feel for areas that might dig into your shoulder, at your cleavage, or around your torso. • Moisture wicking: Fabrics like Coolmax or Dri-FIT pull moisture away from your body, reducing chafing.
Most importantly, find the style that works for you. Experiment with many different styles: racerback, traditional, pullover, or clasped, and keep in mind that a running bra is not designed for all-day comfort and may feel restrictive if you wear it too long. However, once again, if it isn’t comfortable in the store it will be even worse on your run. If you haven’t been sized in a while, get properly fitted.
Most of us spend our life in a misfit bra, keeping the same size from graduation through our pregnancies without ever being properly fit by a specialist. Now is a good time to make sure you’ve got the right size. It is especially important to be fit properly if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. While you don’t need a breastfeeding bra, you do need to pay special attention to the restriction that a running bra places on your breasts or you could end up compressing your milk ducts, causing mastitis.
Take a “test drive” to make sure the bra works for you: jump up and down, and swing your arms to determine if there is any area that is bothersome. It should feel comfortable on the first hook. Bras loosen up and lose their elasticity as they age, so you will need the extra hooks for the life of the bra. Whatever you choose, you should be able to get a year out of your bra if you don’t put it in the dryer.
Other than your shoes, this will be your most important running purchase, so take the time to make the right decision.