Lately I’ve been looking for something very specific in a sports bra: something that fits comfortably without chafing, provides adequate support, and dries quickly. I have been fortunate in the first two categories, probably because I’m not all that busty anyway. I find the under armor sports bras I’ve been wearing are just about right for me. They come in different cup sizes and they have three different hook settings.
They have padding, which some of us object to. See Sam’s post on nipple phobia and padded sports bras. But I don’t object to a bit of padding. Except that it doesn’t dry really quickly. And after the triathlon swim, it’s not all that comfortable to do the bike then the run with a wet bra.
So I tried my other favourite, the Champion compression-style sports bra, in my last triathlon. I got a two-pack of these at Costco for under $20, and I I have found them surprisingly comfortable for my home workouts. They don’t have padding, but the compression gives enough support for me. But when I swam with it in Kincardine, it didn’t even come close to drying. In fact, I think the Under Armor bra does better on that front except for the padding.
But my bra woes are just a fraction of the complaints that are out there, and minor by comparison. An article this week says that 75% of women marathoners report problems with sports bra fit! The top complaints are about chafing and discomfort from shoulder straps.
According to the article:
In a survey of women at the 2012 London Marathon, three-quarters said they have issues with how their sports bra fit.
In the new data from the survey, of the 1,285 women who responded, three-quarters reported problems with how their sports bras fit. Chafing and shoulder straps digging in were the most common complaints, with larger-breasted women more likely to report problems.
In the previous study, which we reported on last April, lead researcher Nicola Brown, Ph.D., and colleagues found that the incidence of breast pain among the women marathoners was high even though 91% of them regularly ran in a sports bra. Brown told Runner’s World Newswire that sport bras don’t offer enough options in shape and construction to match the variety of everyday bras.
“Bra manufacturers need to do more research and work closely with scientists and women to design bras which allow women of all shapes and sizes to lead active and healthy lifestyles,” Brown said.
This is a really demoralizing report. As Sam asks on our FB page, do you think if 75% of men had a complaint about some basic piece of running gear there would not be a solution yet?
Someone commented on our FB page that it’s not surprising, given that most women wear poorly fitting bras most of the time. There just are limits to how comfortable a bra can be. And when you want comfort in an everyday bra, you need to pay for it.
But for the most part, sports bras are not cheap. Though the Champion two-pack was a bargain for sure, the Under Armor bras that I use most of the time when I run are almost $70 each. If you look at what’s on offer in most running stores, you’ll find that most sports bras that come in cup sizes and are good quality are at least $60 and often more than that.
It’s sad to think that lack of adequate breast support could be something that drives women away from pursuing the activities they enjoy. When 75% of marathoners are reporting problems, this signals that manufacturers of sports clothing need to pay more attention to the needs of women athletes.
If you have found a sports bra that is excellent and comfortable, especially for women who need more support, please share about it in the comments. Also, if it has these features and dries quickly, even better!