In search of the ultimate sports bra

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Alisa Higgins

Alisa Higgins

Alisa Higgins is passionate about being active and equally passionate about being able to participate in her chosen sports comfortably. However, for as long as she can remember, she has battled with the ‘big boobs’ dilemma.

A devotee of jogging, she tried multiple sports bras, even wearing two at a time, in an effort to keep the ‘jiggle’ to a minimum.

When her bust size increased to a 32F she became serious about the bra business – and ended up starting her own, sportsbra.co.nz. Aimed at providing Kiwi women with a solution to wayward chests, she researches, tests and sources sports bras to work for the many body shapes and sizes out there. Fitness Journal talks sports bras and bra fitting with her.

“I started researching bras for my own use and after talking with other women, I realized that I wasn’t the only woman out there with this problem. It can be a bit of a life challenge for women with big boobs – it’s not always easy to tame them!”

Alisa’s research led her to discover the Oprah Winfrey-recommended Enell sports bra – not the prettiest bra on the market, but for Alisa, finally a bra that was effective in holding things in place for every sport she tried.

“It’s a compression bra that looks like a corset and with, what feels like a million hooks to do up the front, but I instantly fell in love, because it worked.

“The search however took me on my journey of starting www.sportsbra.co.nz where I hunt far and wide for sports bras for women with a little bit more up top, that actually work.

“Along the way I started doing fittings and can confirm the statistic that 90 percent (yes 90) of women wear the wrong bra size. It’s a bad habit that needs to stop.”

Think about this… breasts have no muscle. They’re mostly composed of fatty tissue and are supported by skin and fragile ligaments called Coopers’ ligaments. Because these are not elastic, during repetitive or high impact sport the breasts bounce and pull on the ligaments, forcing them to stretch. Once these ligaments have stretched they stay this way.

The result is every woman’s nightmare – sagging breasts.

Sports braTips to prevent a sagging nightmare

If you can get a physical fitting then do it. In Auckland, I offer this free service as do Avokodo in Newmarket and Rich Lingerie in Epsom. If not, then grab a tape measure and take two … measurements that is and plug them into the online calculator at sophisticatedpair.com/bra-size-calculator – better than most of the hundreds I’ve tried.

If you need visuals for what you should be measuring check out our guide at sportsbra.co.nz/pages/bra-size-calculator

Can’t get to a fitting and don’t own a tape measure? Then try the ‘best fit’ approach:

1 ) The band: 80 percent of support comes from the band so it needs to be level front and back with only one to two inches give.
–  Band rides up when you lift your arms? Too loose.
–  Can’t breathe? Too tight.

2 ) The cups: ignore all the models that show boob spillage – each breast needs to be fully contained.
–  Boobs are squashed? You now have something to rest your chin on? Too small
–  Fabric is gaping or wrinkling? Too big

3 ) The straps: 20 percent of support comes from the straps.
–  Digging in? Too small
–  Falling off the shoulder? Too big

Sounds like common sense but a lot of us stay in the one bra size and put up with discomfort. We find when bra fitting that almost all women have to go down at least two back sizes and up at least two cup sizes.

If you’re in a store don’t be afraid to jump up and down in the changing room and twist from the waist to ensure it doesn’t ride up. Throw your top on and walk around the store a bit, you should feel supported and able to breathe.

Buying online gives you the option of buying different sizes and trying in the comfort of your own home. Who doesn’t love those over zealous sales people who stick their head into the changing room right at the moment your boobs are escaping from that “looks gorgeous” but too small bra?

So ladies with big breasts, heed these wise words:
–  Avoid sports bras that you pull on over your head
–  Find a rigid under band
–  Avoid too much elastication in the fabric
–  Focus on wide shoulder straps and
–  Do the bounce test

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