Sports bras – keeping abreast of the situation

Often when I’m out running I will pass fellow lady runner. I will always smile, wave or say hello (as I always do to the men folk I pass) and carry on my merry, sweaty way. More often than not I will be infused with the desire to run back after that woman and give her a stern talking to about a) not wearing a sports bra or b) not wearing a bra at all!

They look like sensible people and good runners who have invested in getting their gait analysed and buying the right shoes, sport technical wicking/sun blocking fabrics and GPS watches but have neglected to pay any attention to the damage being caused to their bodies and it’s happening, literally, right under their noses. Well, not directly under the nose as that would be weird but I think you get my drift…

Is it because this particular area of the body does not directly influence your performance when running and so are easily forgotten? Because you can’t get the momentum going with a boob-swing like you can with good biomechanics and they don’t record your split times you don’t kit them out accordingly?

The lovely team at Shock Absorber were kind enough to let us reproduce the following facts about sports bras which, if you don’t already pay them much mind, might make you think differently:

  • FACT :  44%* of women who exercise regularly do not wear sports bras.

Inadequate breast support, coupled with excessive breast movement, is the most likely cause of sore and tender breasts after exercise. Also, exercising without a good sports bra can make you uncomfortable, distract you and affect your confidence.

  • FACT :  There are NO muscles in the breast.

Only skin & Cooper’s ligaments support breast tissue and any excessive amount of breast movement puts strain on these ligaments causing irreversible damage. Once breasts have dropped because of stretching these ligaments, nothing can naturally restore them to their former position.

  • FACT : Your breasts can bounce up to 14cm** when unsupported during exercise.

Even among 34As/75As, tests found that breast movement ranged up to an average of 40mm away from the resting place of the body, which can lead to breast sag.

  • FACT :  Wearing a Shock Absorber sports bra is proven to reduce breast movement by up to 78%***.

This has proven to be as much as twice as effective at minimising breast movement as a ‘normal’ bra.

So there. When the damage is done, ladies, it is done.

You may also be surprised to know that working out your own bra size is not as simple as wrapping a tape measure around yourself and buying yourself a bra that matches the number you get on the tape. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Stand up straight, preferably in front of a mirror wearing a normal, non-padded bra.
  2. To find your bust measurement, loosely wrap the tape measure around your chest, making sure the tape is straight in the back and front. Once you get a number, round to the nearest whole number to get your bust measurement. (For example, if your bust measured 38.5 inches, round that up to 39 inches.)
  3. Find your band measurement. Measure your ribcage just under your breasts, making sure the tape is snug, but not tight, and not lower in the back than in the front. To get your band measurement, take the actual number of your ribcage measurement and add 3 inches. If this number is odd, you need to add another inch to make it an even number. (For example, if your band measured 32 inches, you’d add 3 to get 35 inches; because it’s an odd number, you’d add a 1 to get 36 inches.)
  4. To find your cup size, subtract your band measurement (step 5) from your bust measurement (step 4). Use the chart below to determine which letter is your cup size. (Using the same example above, you’d subtract 39-36 to get 3 inches, which is a C cup, according to the chart.)

Bust – Band difference

Cup Size












DD or E





5. Put your band size with your cup size and you have your bra size. (In this example, the bra size is 36C.)


An extra fact worth noting is that, like running shoes, sports bras only have a certain amount of life in them before they start to become ineffective. Due to the fabric and the amount of hard work these bras put into keeping you supported, they are only good for about 30 washes. If you start to notice any bouncing, rubbing or chaffing where there was none previously it is time to retire that bra. Feel free to have a small party for its efforts if you’re sentimental like me, however, you must then proceed to pack it off to live out its days in a condo in Florida (aka the bin).

So no more excuses! No more swinging freely in the breeze (while you’re running anyway).

Take heed of this article at your peril. If you see a blonde galloping down the street after you, shaking her first and shouting something about boobs it is not a pervert.

It is me and I have snapped.

* GFK U&A 2012
** University of Portsmouth 2005 (Scurr et al)
*** University of Portsmouth 2009 (Scurr et al) – testing against « no bra » conditions
**** Kantar Worldpanel data 2011, UK market

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