Getting Wired...or Not?> back
January 28, 2011
After years of talking with scores of wise, active women about what they want in a sports bra, it's clear that some of the most heated discussion involves our love/hate relationship with underwires! For every woman I've met who recoils in terror at the thought of a stiff metal wire in her sports bra, I've met another who wouldn't think of hitting the jogging trail without the security and support of her favorite underwire style.
But since each of us is wonderfully unique when it comes to body, breasts and bounce, it's perfectly normal that there's no clear consensus on whether bra wires and workouts are the match made in heaven, or two things that should not even be mentioned in the same sentence!
In reality, both underwire and no-wire sports bra models offer positive and distinct advantages, so I say "Hallelujah!" that we have both options. The only tricky part can be figuring out which design approach works best with your own personal style, size, and sports, and we're going to sort that out right here.
Sports Bras—not necessarily instruments of torture!
'Everyday' underwire bras, with their half-circles of metal wire or plastic encased around the lower edges of the cups, have become a popular fixture in many women's bra wardrobes. Because wires can create maximum separation, support and anchoring with minimum weight and bulkiness, it's no surprise this technology has migrated successfully into the sports bra universe.
You may be a great candidate for an underwire sports bra if you:
• have fuller breasts and need more support
• prefer more separation and shaping in your bra (even if you're small to medium)
• have trouble with the rib band 'riding up' onto your breasts during workouts
• already know and love underwire bras for non-sport occasions
While it's probably not a great idea to bring your everyday WonderBra into your workout, there are great underwire sports bras specifically engineered to comfortably withstand whatever exercise torture you can inflict on them. However, when you're shopping, don't forget—underwire bras aren't all created equal and some even have the potential to annoy or injure you. Here's what to look for:
• Is the actual wire well-covered to protect your skin from injury? Paying for quality here will definitely pay you back. For example, Champion's Powerback Underwire and Double Dry Full Support Seamless Underwire sports bras use wires with cushioned tips and triple-wrapped coverings to make sure you don't get poked or scraped (and that your bra lasts longer). Even a top-quality underwire bra needs protection—laundering yours in a simple mesh lingerie bag to keep the wire casing from wearing thin, and fanatically avoiding the dryer can add months to its life.
• Does the underwire (including the ends) lie smoothly on your chest wall, not on your breast tissue? If not, the cup may be too small and you might try moving up a cup size to get a better fit.
• When you bend forward and twist from side to side, do you feel any discomfort or poking on your chest well or breasts? If, like me, you're short in the torso or your breasts look more like wide ovals instead of circles, it's harder to find an underwire that lies comfortably flat and stays clear of your breast tissue when you're pushing a hard workout. Having a 'unique' body type is the #1 reason I find myself in a wire-free sports bra most days.
Wire-free doesn't just mean more flexibility and freedom for your laptop—the same applies to your sports bra. A soft cup bra may be your perfect choice if:
• You don't have the perfect proportions of an industry fit model. Soft cup and pullover sports bras can be much more forgiving in fit and comfort, especially if one of the girls is a little different size than the other (yup, that's me too!). With an underwire style, you really have to find a 'good enough' fit, or you'll be uncomfortable.
• You're small-to-medium size and have no problem getting great support in a wire-free bra.
• Comfort is key, and you don't even want to think about the potential threat of a wire end ever coming through the fabric casing and poking you (although that's not likely to happen with a quality underwire sports bra that's been given TLC).
• You're nursing, or recovering from breast surgery or suffer from fibrocystic breast disease, a wire-free sports bra may be less irritating to tender tissues. For the optimal combination of support and comfort in a soft cup bra, look for special encircling fabric support panels built into the bra, like those you find in Champion's 360° Max Support, Powersleek, and Action Shape sports bras.
• You frequently go through metal detectors and airport security. I travel a lot and have probably set the world record for 60-year-old women sprinting a quarter mile through the terminal while pulling a roll-aboard. Under these conditions I have often wished for the added support and anchoring of an underwire sports bra! But seriously, with current regulations, you can trigger detection devices and be subject to the inconvenience of more stringent inspection including removal of the offending bra. Best advice: follow TSA recommendations and leave underwire sports bras in your suitcase.
While an underwire could slow you down at the airport, I'd like rest your mind about rumors that the metal in underwire bras can somehow act as little 'antennas' and beam harmful waves into your body. As a scientist, I've dug deeply into every available piece of research I can locate, and can't find any evidence to be alarmed. In fact, if an underwire bra is the only thing that gives you enough support to work out hard and often, you'll dramatically reduce your risk of getting a whole bunch of unpleasant diseases (not to speak of gaining a firmer derriere!).
Introducing Champion's Sports Bra Expert - LaJean Lawson
In 1977, Champion Activewear invented the first sports bra, called the Jogbra®, made from two jockstraps sewn together. The realization that women also needed support for their assets was the catalyst for Champion Activewear to apply innovation and technology to become the leader in the sports bra market.
In 1977, runner LaJean Lawson had just finished her first marathon with bleeding sores on her shoulders and chest from a bra that did anything but support. Her search for a solution eventually led to the discovery of her life's passion–sports bras!
Today, Champion Activewear is thrilled to offer Dr. Lawson as a resource to help you solve your sports bra problems. While Dr. Lawson has gained critical knowledge from scientific research, the best education she's had about sports bra needs has come from the thousands of women she has spoken to at races and events, as well as those who help her test Champion products.
Whether it's your shoes or your sports bra, your workout happiness depends on finding the gear that's just right for your size and activity level, and that's exactly why we're here to help!
Ask our expert, LaJean
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