Monthly Archives: December 2012

The truth about underwire

I recently had a conversation with a good friend and running partner about a range of bras I was currently reviewing. She gasped in absolute disbelief when I mentioned that most of them had no underwire.

Having been researching the lingerie industry for sometime now, I had forgotten that there is a common misconception out there that underwire provides the support in a bra.

Sure, underwire does play an important role in our everyday bra construction, but it is much less of a game player in Sports Bra design.

Underwire provides SHAPE, not support. Hence, many women would see it is being crucial in everyday bra’s that need to be able to shape the breast without using cumbersome materials.

When it comes to Sports Bra construction, generally the materials are more abundant, firm fitting and have less stretch. So a Sports Bra that uses the encapsulation method of support (Eg A bra that separates the breast) can still offer a great shape without using underwire.

That’s not to suggest that I believe no Sports Bra should use underwire, I have a number in my closet that do, one of which happens to be my go-to long run option.

So, where does the support in a bra come from? 82% of the support comes from the band that runs along your ribcage. The secondary means of support are the straps which really act as motion stabilisers. Without a functional band, the straps alone will not provide enough breast support during high impact activity. I’ll be sure to touch on this a bit more in a future post!

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How much support do you need from your Sports Bra?

I thought it’d be easier to turn this post in to a diagram as pictures apparently speak a thousand words and I was turning this in to a thesis.

Choosing a support level for your particular needs can be tricky, especially as most people will attempt to go for one option that will tick all boxes. For this reason, it’s important you always purchase the maximum level of support you require for your activity profile. That’s the only way one bra can be versatile enough to cater for all your activity needs.

Now obviously the scale below is just a guide.  Each individual’s breast motion can vary immensly within the same size catergory due to variable tissue makeup of the breast. The amount of breast motion one has is what ultimately determines how much control you need out of your bra for both activity and everyday living.

Support scale she science

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Compression Apparel – Fad, fiction or FACT?

Being an Australian it’s hard to be left out of the phenomenon that is ‘compression gear’. We are by far the biggest supporters of this industry worldwide.

I’m known for advertising the main reason I run in compression is because the absolute freedom of movement has you feeling you like are running in the nude 😉 But, there actually is a science behind this ‘Therapeutic Sports Apparel’ and I wanted to share this with you and explain how it may be of benefit to your training.

The leaders in the industry use a gradual or gradient compression which basically means that the compression (measured in mm/mercury) varies from site to site. The rule is, the highest level of compression is used furthest away from the heart (eg the ankles/calves) and it drops gradually more proximal to the heart (eg waist).

This compression gradient increases blood circulation which also aids in increasing venous return. Because there is an increased amount of blood going through the lungs this also results in an increased count of highly oxygenated blood. Having an increased level of oxygenated blood getting to working muscles is what really impacts on our power and endurance.

It is claimed, through rigorous independent testing that some compression garments will increase power by 25% and endurance by 30%. Whilst these results are obviously significant, it’s probably best we don’t hang too many expectations about smashing PB’s based on such results.

The other well -known benefit of compression apparel is to improve recovery by decreasing lactic acid build up. Both wearing compression during and post activity is documented to aid in recovery. Many people choose to get this result by sleeping in their compression tights post endurance training.

The key with such performance apparel is to get the fit right. My experience with having sold compression for many years is that people are always scared of committing to the right size. They need to be firm to do the job you are paying a premium price for, for most of us this is not a normal feeling at first! Most brands use the BMI scale to advise on the fit, that being they take in to account both your height and weight. For tights, if you are on the border of two sizes then always choose the smaller size. For tops, if you are on the border then choose the bigger size.

Aside from an improvement in power, endurance and a speedy recovery you can expect your compression gear to aid in thermoregulation, act as an antibacterial layer and wick moisture away from your skin to reduce chaffing.

I’ve never heard someone say they regret the investment in a good pair of compression tights, so if you are at all intrigued by the idea behind it all – GIVE IT A GO!

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