The only thing worse than shopping for a bikini could be shopping for a bra—and up to 80 per cent of women wear the wrong bra size. When it comes to running bras, if you’re in the wrong size, you can do permanent damage to your lovely breasts.
“It doesn’t matter how small you are, you need a bra for running,” says Lynda Barr, director of Dianes Lingerie in Vancouver. Barr is a runner herself, and on her jaunts around the seawall she has seen plenty of movement. “People always talk about the shoes. The bra is as important as the shoes.” Running without proper support can cause “joggers breast”, also known as sag. Repetitive movement up and down and side to side can cause stretching or tears in the Cooper’s ligament, the connective tissue that supports the breast. Damage to the Cooper’s ligament is irreversible.
I’m standing in the dressing room at Dianes Lingerie on South Granville, wearing my regular day bra, a black lace number. It cuts on the shoulder, rides up the back and squishes in all the wrong places. Like most of my bras it’s damned uncomfortable. But we’re supposed to suffer for beauty, right? Wrong.
There’s a reason that Dianes specializes in sports bras as well as a candy-shop array of styles: bras with lace overlays, straps made of little daisies, bras in orange, lavender, black, nude.
A sports bra, like an everyday bra, explains Barr, requires a proper fitting. But I’ve always been too intimidated to go to a store like this. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to find the right bra—that elusive, magic thing—by myself. For bras, Barr explains, self-serve isn’t always the best option.
At Dianes, everyone on the floor is an expert fitter: they’ve seen it all, fitted it all, fixed it all. I confess that my methodology for buying a running bra is to squeeze into the tightest one I can find—my current one is a compression style so tight that literally nothing moves.
It’s designed and sold in a popular yoga wear store, and it hurts.
Lynda hands me a running bra. It’s an “Anita active”, seamless, microfibre style with a clip back, fairly wide shoulder straps and two cups. It almost looks like a regular bra, the smooth kind you wear under T-shirts, but Lynda says it’s suitable for high impact sports.
The straight compression style I’ve been wearing could be unhealthy: the point is to hold everything in place, but cutting off your circulation could have negative health impacts.
I try the bra on. “Most people go too big in the band,” she says. Indeed, the bras I usually wear range wildly in size. Barr puts me in a bra a cup-size bigger than I usually wear, and a band size smaller.
It is miraculously comfortable. She tightens the strap so the cup fits smoothly. “Ninety-per cent of the support comes from the strap,” she explains. The bra should lie flat at the breast bone, and you should be able to do it up on the middle clip at the back. Chafing, she explains is more likely if the band is too loose. A snug (but not too snug) band is best.
I jump up and down. Nothing moves. It’s comfortable, I look good, even busty.
Weirdly, I feel a wave of emotion, gratitude, relief and even a little sense of celebration.
My eyes sweep around the store. It’s not just the running bra. Now that I have the right fit, I can start to indulge in the kind of pretty confections I thought were just for, well, the Victoria’s Secret type. Like the periwinkle one with the little daisies on the strap.
Lynda says, “This is why I love my job. This happens at least once a day.”
What she’s talking about is what I’m feeling right now: This expert bra fitting hasn’t just changed the size of bra I wear. It’s changed the way I see myself.
And I’m going to run with it.
Source: Vancouver Sun