When you perform any form of exercise, and this is true for gentler forms of exercise such as pilates or jogging as it is for more strenuous activities such as sprinting or horse riding, your breasts move. And they don't just move up and down, they move from side to side and in and out too.
All of this movement can lead to breast tissue damage which can result in mild discomfort or even enough pain to make you stop doing your chosen activity.
Breast movement during exercise can also lead to embarrassment, particularly if you have larger breasts, and this is the reason that far too many women are not taking part in sports and activities that they would enjoy and benefit from.
Sports bras are designed specifically to prevent breast movement, thereby making physical activity a far more pleasurable experience for women. Not only will the right sports bra eliminate pain, but it will also reduce levels of embarrassment and boost your self-confidence.
In short, a sports bra will allow you to participate fully in whatever activity you choose.
So how do you choose the best sports bra for you?
Types of Sports Bra
There are two main types of sports bra - compression and encapsulation. You can also get bras that incorporate both compression with encapsulation.
Compression sports bras work by flattening your breasts against your chest wall to limit movement. Compression support is most suitable for A and B cup sizes.
Encapsulation sports bras work by enclosing each breast in a cup specifically designed to limit the movement of each breast. Encapsulation support is most suitable for DD and bigger cup sizes.
Bras that incorporate both compression and encapsulation are best suited for cup sizes B to D.
The right Sports Bra for the job
Another important factor to take into consideration is the type of activity you will be undertaking. The best sports bras are specifically designed to offer the appropriate amount of support during particular activities and are graded in terms of support offered.
Light Control - pilates, yoga, walking and gardening
Medium Control - cycling and hiking
Firm Control - tennis, football, jogging
Maximum Control - running, intense workouts, boxing, aerobics and horse riding
Choose the correct level of support and control for your activity and then decide whether a compression or an encapsulation sports bra would suit you best.
Most sports bra manufacturers rate their bras from one to four with one representing light control and
four maximum control.
The top five Sports Bras
Anita Active Extreme Control Sports Bra
Suitable for high impact sports in all sizes, including horse riding, running and aerobics, the Extreme Control Sports Bra offers all the comfort and support you could ask for from a sports bra. It is made from atmos piqué fabric which absorbs moisture and then transports it away from the body so that you stay dry during even intense workouts. The cups also feature a seamless, breathable microfibre towelling lining for extra support and to prevent chafing. The three-section outer cups with sculpted support sections at the sides, together with the soft microfibre underbust band and padded support straps, ensure fantastic support. Available in sizes 32-46 B, C, D, E; 32-44 F, G; and 32-42 H; in a choice of white, black with white trim and now white with pink and yellow trim £46 more
Shock Absorber Level Four Sports Bra
Shock Absorber has established itself as one of the leading brands of sports bras and with very good reason. The Shock Absorber Level 4 Sports Bra is suitable for high impact sports in all sizes and can be worn as an under or outer garment. It has an adjustable racer back with two rear fastenings. Available in sizes 28-34A; 28-38B, C; 28-40D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H and HH. £30 more
Triumph Tri-Action Extreme Sports Bra
The ultimate sports bra for high impact sports. Featuring pre-moulded cups and an ultra soft underbust band for ultimate comfort. High-tech fibres draw moisture from the body to prevent chafing and to provide a soft, comfortable and highly breathable feel. Available in sizes Sizes 32-40 and B, C, D, DD and E cups and now in F cup too. £32 more
Enell Sports Bra
The bounce stops here! Superior support and comfort are trademarks of Enell Sports Bras. Using both compression and encapsulation, it has front hook and eye closures making it easy to get in and out of and features wide non-stretch straps and a high neckline to stabilise your breasts. Available in white, black, beige or pink in sizes 32C to 52E (US equivalent). £44 more
Sportjock Action Sportsbra
Designed to fit A, B and C cup sizes, this racer back sportsbra has double layer construction for superior support with the inner layer wicking away perspiration to keep you and your bra drier. Available in a range of colours including candy pink and slate grey and now in violet too. £28 more
STOP PRESS: Brastop often have end of line and "last season" sports bras on sale at reduced prices. Definitely worth a look!
Want to you your ideal weight for your height? Here's a great height weight chart.