Providing support

Sports bras are an emerging market, but functionality remains elusive

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Which is more important in a sports bra, style or functionality? From a functionality standpoint, there’s a real need to be served. Between 40 to 60 percent of women report breast pain associated with physical activity, and variance across women means that while one sports bra might be right for one woman, the same sports bra could cause a different woman serious discomfort.

In essence, women must choose from two types of sports bras: compression bras that hug the breast to the chest, limiting movement, and encapsulation bras that operate more like traditional bras. For some larger breasted women the encapsulation bras are more effective, but for the majority the compression bra is the correct choice. But many women, including serious athletes, are telling researchers that functionality isn’t the only thing they care about.

Compression bras flatten the breasts reducing their apparent volume and create a “uniboob” effect, where the breasts look straight across the body. Many women are opting into padded sports bras that better outline their figures. Companies are racing to develop sports bras that both look good and serve their functional purpose. But given large numbers of women who become discouraged from exercise due to breast pain, functionality should really be coming first.

Read the full story at Racked.

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