The Sports Bra Expert

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - post 1> back
October 4, 2011

Question of the Week:"I'm recovering from a mastectomy--any advice on finding the bestsports bra for my fit and support needs? Any special concerns/needs I should be aware of?"

First, kudos to all of my courageous active sisters who have given the push-back to breast cancer and are reclaiming the joy of fitness!! Doing the right kind of exercise at the right time during recovery is one of the greatest tools we have for getting back to living our best lives!

Mastectomy treatment and recovery have several key stages, and I'm going to give each of them the attention they deserve in separate posts over the next few weeks. The kinds of exercise you can do as well as the best sports bra to support your progress depend on the stage you're in.

To kick off my series of posts, this week I'm focusing on the first Early Recovery stage, right after your initial surgery—which is all about comfort, support and healing.

We'll also take a look at the sports bras you need for exercise during Phase 2, the second and more active stage of mastectomy recovery. Fitness-loving women I've talked to really get a sense of hope when they can start on the road back to the vitality they love!

It's absolutely essential to collaborate with your own surgeon on when it's safe to get going again, and what specific activities will help your healing process the most. This great overview from the American Cancer Society is a good start on understanding the fundamentals: Exercises after Breast Surgery.

Phase 1
Early recovery activities: When you have your surgeon's approval, the goal of your exercise soon after mastectomy surgery is to increase your arm range-of-motion and overall healing while decreasing pain and risk of swelling. Gentle exercise is your wonderful friend and ally in this process, and your activity Rx will probably focus on breathing, stretching, and walking to encourage healthy circulation.

Best sports bras during early recovery: When it comes to your sports bra, your doc may recommend a compression-style model to hug you close and give added support to tender tissues during healing. An added plus is that stretchy compression sports bras can naturally adjust to post-surgery size differences.

Look for a minimum of hooks and hardware (no underwires!), and soft body-friendly fabrics so nothing can irritate your incisions and tender skin. It's important not to sweat into your incisions, so keep your intensity low and make sure your sports bra is great at wicking away any perspiration. To make getting in and out of your bra less painful, try a zip-front style like Champion's#1699 Zip Tech Sports Bra.

Phase 2
Getting Stronger—Yes!!

Four to six weeks after surgery, you will usually be given the OK to add more exercises and boost your workout intensity. Higher impact exercises demand more support from your sports bra to keep you comfortable and your healing process on track. So look for a "high motion control" rating and features like wide adjustable straps and bottom band, less-stretchy cups, and good coverage in the cleavage and armhole areas.

You'll still need to avoid underwires in any of your bras as they can still irritate the incision area. In fact if you've had reconstruction with implants (lots more on reconstruction in next week's blog!), your surgeon will probably ask you to wait 3 months to wear a wire. That's because your body is forming scar tissue around the implant, and an underwire could cause a permanent 'dent' in your shape—not the kind of curves you're looking for! To get the stability you want without the wire, look for sports bras with strategic body-friendly support panels or bands, like Champion's #1612 360° Max Support and #1691 PowerSleek.

Next Week: Reconstruction (or Not): Without a doubt, we've come a long way in the successful treatment of breast cancer and in being empowered to choose whichever post-mastectomy procedures fit best with our individual lives and values. Some of you choose to stay au natural, some prefer external breast forms, and some of you choose reconstruction with implants or your own tissues. These are all great choices, but the specific treatment plan you choose will point you in a somewhat different direction when it comes to hooking up with the best post-mastectomy sports bra. We're going to explore each one in detail through the month in future posts—so stay tuned!


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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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