The Sports Bra Expert

Cross-Country Running Gear Tips for Curves> back
September 1, 2011

Question of the Week: "I don't have a small-chested physique like a lot of the runners on my cross-country team, and the cute racerback bras I love just don't go the distance for my curves! Can you help me pick a sports bra that will lock 'the girls' down so I can totally focus on winning races?"

One of my favorite things about writing this blog is how much cool new stuff I learn when I set out to answer a question outside of my own sports experience! This week is a perfect example.

I've competed in road races for decades and totally understand through my own training and lab research that ANY kind of running puts a sports bra to a mega-test of bounce resistance, sweat management and chafe protection. But it's only during my sleuthing this week that I've learned how cross-country terrain not only creates shifts in your running gait, but also in your sports bra requirements.

Regardless of your cup size, running over softer and uneven ground in fall cross-country conditions that can range from broiling hot to driving rain not only challenges your whole body, but also your sports bra! In brief, the terrain is connected to your technique, which in turn is connected to the action of your ta-ta's! Let me explain...

Softer stride = less bounce. Compared to roads and tracks, cross-country terrain is usually softer and more slippery. These cushier, slip-sliding-away conditions mean that you naturally shorten your running stride, and that extra energy from your foot-strike is absorbed into the more forgiving surface. While soft ground and a shorter stride are more demanding on your leg muscles, the upside is that decreased impact on your body means a little less vertical breast bounce. Still, cross-country IS running, so you totally need a sports bra that's been lab-tested to provide high-motion protection, like Champion's 1602 Spot Comfort Full Support. The bottom band and cushy gel straps are fully adjustable, so you can customize the support you need on any training run—trail, track or road.

Stops-and-starts demand 3-D support. Sadistic cross-country course planners love to throw in curves and hills, which require frequent changes in direction and tempo (think accelerating through the easy stuff and braking hard for a winding, slippery patch). You also have to be on the lookout for holes, tree roots, rocks and puddles waiting to trip you up. The sudden changes in direction provoke more side-to-side breast motion than straight-up road running, while quick shifts in braking and speed cause 'the girls' to surge straight out front from your chest and then fall back. What that means for your sports bra is a firmer cup to control out-and-back action, and heavier-duty features like underwires and stabilizing side panels along the cup edge to tame side-to-side sway.

Run away from chill! While it all depends on exactly where you live, most of you cross-country gals can count on getting cold and wet before the fall season is over. A layer of damp fabric hugging your breast on a nippy windy day is the best way to provoke short-term pain and boost your risk of chafing. The easiest fixes for chilly days are to make sure your sports bra is made from quick-drying, synthetic wicking fabrics, and to layer up with lightweight water-resistant gear to stay warm and dry. This week, I'm also wishing all you cross-country girls a fantastic season, and wildly encourage the rest of you to turn out and cheer on your local school teams--it's a blast!


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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!

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