If you’re on a quest to find sports bras for curvy women then this information will really prepare you for it! Once you understand how your boobs move, and what they’re made of, you’ll know what type of sports bra to shop for. No more trial and error. No more expensive mistakes. No more bewilderment when shopping online and they all start to look the same. See through the sales pitches and choose what will work best for your boobs!
Boobs are Getting Bigger!
In 2019, the average bra size in the United States is 34DD and in the UK it’s 36DD . This is based on the best-selling sold bra sizes. It’s much higher than in the previous decades and a fairly recent change. This increase affects all types of bras – sports bras for curvy women are getting bigger too.
Why the increase? Apart from deliberate increases in breast size like having cosmetic implants, the common causes are:
- obesity (eating too much and not exercising enough)
- contraceptives (containing oestrogen)
- eating drinks or foods containing persistent organic pollutants (or POPs) in your diet. These pollutants act like the hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen loves
to store fat – your boobs, bum, thighs and arms are its favourite spots. Foods that contain these POPs include fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and milk. POP is in our food chain. It’s likely impossible nowadays to have a POP-free diet. Simply by eating these foods, or foods made by their by-products, you are increasing your levels of oestrogen.
Exercise – Difficult and Damaging to Big Boobs!
We all know that exercise plays a big part in a healthy lifestyle. There’s a huge increase in obesity in the developed world. This is showing no signs of slowing down and there is more focus on health lifestyle than ever. Exercise can also help women prevent osteoporosis and maintain good cardiac health. The pressure is on to move more, but moving more is difficult for some people and it’s definitely difficult for those with large breasts. This is known to deter many large busted ladies to avoid exercise or only tolerate gentler types of exercise.
Have you ever tried to Exercise with Very Large Breasts?
I can remember the first time I tried to do an exercise DVD at home (or video as it was at the time). It was the summer of 1999. I was morbidly obese and too scared to go near a gym. I was in my living room, dressed in whatever loose clothes I had at the time. I watched or walked through the high intensity aerobic exercises parts of the workout, trying not to pass out and hoping the floor exercises and arm weight sections would be much easier.
The floor exercise part meant kneeling on all fours and then raising one leg at a time (some sort of butt- blasting exercise!). Your head is facing the floor and you’re encouraged to look down your body to see your knees and feet and check they’re in the right position. All I could see was my boobs! Massive boobs that were practically choking me! I would have been wearing a normal bra too in those days so there was absolutely no additional support!
After a few months of doing the DVD daily, I was able to take part in the aerobic sections more easily. They involved dancing along the floor, forwards and backwards, jumping up and down. I used my arms to hold my chest down whenever I had to jump to stop them bouncing around and hurting so much.
If I’d known then what I know now about what’s in a boob and how fragile they are to being moved around, I would have either found a sports bra or worn 6 normal bras at a time!
No Sports Bra = No Gym = No Friends!
Of course the one good thing was that no one could see me. I was exercising in my own home. No one to stare at my bouncing boobs, no glances that would make me feel self-conscious. No one to see me collapse in a sweaty heap regularly, shouting at the TV and pouring water over my head and down my bust!
However, staying at home meant I had no access to personal trainers who could have helped me along. No access to a variety of classes. No chance to socialise with anyone like me, trying to lose some weight. That’s really important when you’re trying to lose weight or get healthy. We can’t rely on our own willpower. Going to a gym class or meeting a friend there makes you accountable and far more likely to show up and achieve your goals.
I wouldn’t go to the gym because I was ashamed of how I looked AND I was embarrassed by my bouncing boobs when I tried almost any exercise. Tell me, would you feel better about going to the gym or exercising if your knew your boobs were securely under wraps and not going to cause you pain?
What’s in a Boob?
Your boob is mainly made up of milk glands and ducts, fat, and connective tissue. Their main purpose is to feed babies and your body gets ready for that each month. This is why your boobs may swell before your period.
There is no bone, no muscle. Thin, fragile ligaments (called Coopers Ligaments) attach your breast to the chest muscles. The ligaments are spread like a cobweb throughout your breast.
These Cooper’s Ligaments and your skin are the only 2 things supporting your boob. Both aren’t particularly strong.
Sadly, these ligaments can break or stretch. When they’re repeatedly stretched beyond their normal length, they won’t return to their pre-stretch size. In other words, your boob sags as the ligaments can’t hold it as tightly as they once did.
What causes Sore Boobs when you Exercise?
Any movement of the breast from its natural position, also known as displacement, causes pain. An average breast weighs 1.5 kilogrammes. Larger breasts will obviously weigh more. The more they weigh, the more they’ll hurt when they’re displaced. Anyone with a large bust basically has two heavy weights that will be out-of-control when moving at anything from a slight speed upwards.
Research has shown that boobs move an average of 15 centimetres (in all directions) when an average-sized
woman does higher intensity exercises such as jogging or aerobics. (So, how much will bigger boobs move?)
Higher-intensity exercises (running, jogging, football, tennis etc) will hurt more than lower-intensity exercises (walking, swimming, cycling, water aerobics, pilates etc) as more displacement is involved. However, even during lower-intensity exercises, your breasts need support. Consider some of the movements in pilates – your boobs may be hanging downwards or to one side for quite a long time.
Once again, the clock is ticking against us – the amount of displacement increases as you age and your breasts are more prone to sagging.
What’s in a Bounce?
When you exercise, your breasts move forward and then backwards towards your rib cage. They also need to move up and down
(just as the rest of you moves up and down). Plus, every step you take makes your body move from side-to- side, so your breasts will move from side-to-side too. Your boobs are moving in three directions, at speed, whenever you exercise.
It’s like they move in a figure 8-shape. Those same little Cooper’s Ligaments are being pushed and pulled in all directions and under huge strain – from the weight of your boobs, force and gravity.
The type of sport affects your choice of sports bras too. Runners experience a lot of upwards and downwards movement of their breasts so compression is essential.
In tennis you need to turn your upper body to serve and hit the ball – your boobs will move from side to side so a sports bra with good side support is recommended.
You’ll even need a sports bra for gentler exercises like pilates and yoga – some of the poses will mean your breasts are hanging downwards or to one side. An elastic sports bra will hold you in place.
Types of Sports Bras
There are 3 types – aimed at decreasing the stress on the breasts, by making them move less far away from their natural position.
Compression Sports Bras: these ‘squash’ your boobs together and push them towards the chest wall, so your boobs are close to the body and held in place, allowing them to move less. However, the breast tissue will still move during exercise and so these bras are pretty elastic – to allow the breast tissue to seep to the underarms, side arms and in between the boobs when they move. The elasticity means the breast can still move around, but closer to the chest wall at least. Compression bras are good for anything up to and including a C size cup.
Encapsulating Sports Bras: these hold each breast in place separately in a full cup. They don’t compress it at all and aren’t very stretchy so limit the movement by being fairly rigid. This type of sports bra is better for D cup size and above.
Combination Sports Bras: a bra that offers compression and encapsulation. It has a cup for each breast but extra layers or mesh to keep them close to the chest wall.
Trying on the bra will help you decide what feels right for you. When going to buy your first one, find a local store that supplies them and go to be professionally measured and to try the different bra styles on. Once you know the size and style or model that you like best, it’s easy to repeat buy online.
How Often do I need to Change a Sports Bra?
This partly depends on how well you take care of it. If it’s ‘hand wash only’ then throwing it in the washing machine will destroy the elastic fibres over time.
If you’re taking care of it, you probably only need to change it as often as you change your trainers or other sports clothing.
So, we have these two beautiful but heavy bags of tender ligaments and soft tissues hanging off the front of our bodies (only attached to the body at one side). They move freely, independent of your torso movements, and are at the mercy of force and gravity. Sports bras for curvy women and plus size women are a necessity, and perhaps not just when you’re exercising.
There’s no way to repair the ligaments when they’ve been overstretched and sagging occurs. As an added bonus, it gets worse as we age! We can limit the damage to our lovely boobs by protecting them in a supportive bra and sports bras offer the most support.
Think about the size of your boobs and what exercise you intend to use them for. What ways your boobs will mainly move when you’re exercising? Up and down or side-to-side?
There are 3 types of sports bras but literally hundreds of versions available. All will have different straps, different colours, different cup sizes, different price ranges, different underband sizes and different levels of support. There WILL be a right one for your pair!
Go shopping with these things in mind. Get measured first and try lots on. Run around or jump up and down with one on to check if there’s pain. Do what you would be doing when you’re wearing it and don’t pay attention if anyone stares! There’s no point in taking it home then discovering it’s not the right one.
Good luck and happy shopping. If you’ve got any comments, or would like to tell me about a sports bra you’ve loved or hated, please tell me below.
Founder of Plus Size Shapewear