When Run The Planet asked me to do a sports bra review, I decided to focus on sports bras for medium to larger-breasted women. After all, I do fall into the category of an endowed runner.
During my 10k and 5k test runs, I had this image in my mind - it was Kathy Bates from the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" yelling "Towanda!" as she jogged on her mini trampoline! Kind of a "Yes, I can!" attitude took over me! What I found was every body can have that "can do" attitude, especially with the right sports bra. Yes, you can, no matter what your size.
For this review, I targeted encapsulation style sports bras because active women with C and larger cup sizes should avoid those pullover types. An encapsulation style sports bra - one that separates and supports the breasts - is generally more supportive and easier to get on and off for larger-breasted women.
The three encapsulation styles below performed extremely well on ability to restrict vertical movement in high intensity activities like running. I describe the standout features of each style and provide a critique on sizing, comfort and support after a 10k and 5k run. Keep in mind, I measure between a 34 and 36-band size and C and D cup size and I don't have a tendency to chafe.
Shock Absorbers High Exertion 4 - This lightweight style separates the breasts without an underwire. Its adjustable shoulder straps are extra-wide and generously padded. The three eye and hook back closures make the wear ability much like your everyday bra. The non-absorbent fabric content includes 89% polyester, 5% spandex and 6% nylon. It comes in black or white colors with a size range of 32-40 D-G. Bra critique (according to this Fit X-pert): this style seems to run a little small. I measure between a 34C and 36D - the 36D fit me best. The thick cushion of the shoulder straps did a great job of preventing any digging in during a run of any distance. The band started getting uncomfortable towards the end of the 10k, but I didn't notice it on the 5k. This style provides wonderful shaping without giving up a thing in support! I love that this style was built to be so strong without any heavy-duty hardware. If you really don't like those underwires but want contour and support, this style is a great find.
Naturally Natori - This cottony style uses an underwire to provide separation and support. The smooth cup design includes an extra sleeve of fabric on the outside of the cups for added support. Its shoulder straps are adjustable in the back with a 3-way hook and loop construction. The fabric content includes 55% cotton, 35% polyester and 10% spandex. It comes in black, white or heather gray colors with a size range of 32-38 B-DD and 40 D-DD. Bra critique (according to this Fit X-pert): this great fitting style supports and separates with an underwire that completely surrounds the breasts. The design sort of outlines each breast and holds it in place. The underwires in between the breasts tend to rest away from the chest even when wearing the right size - this didn't seem to make a difference, but it was something I noticed. The Natori got a little heavy on the 10k because of the absorbent fabric. The soft cottony cup is smooth and seam-free, making this style one of the most comfortable sports bras I've ever worn. The style seems true to size - the 34C fit me best. If you don't mind going without a wicking fabric and don't have a tendency to chafe, this style offers exceptional comfort.
DK Quick Dry Underwire - This lightweight style uses an underwire on the outside of the cup to provide a combination of separation and support in a non-absorbent fabric. Its shoulder straps are adjustable in the back with a 3-way hook and loop construction. The fabric content includes 93% Tactel ® nylon and 7% Lycra ®. This style comes in black or white with a size range of 32-38 B-DD. Bra critique (according to this Fit X-pert): even though I measure between a 34C and 36D, I liked the 34D fit better. The 34C worked too, but I liked how the D cup gave more coverage and a little more control. The 34 definitely fit best. This style gave an excellent all-around performance. A form-fitting design, wicking capability, combined comfort and support all in one! The fabric is slick and smooth so my tee shirt didn't look like it was glued to the bra when I moved. What I liked best about this style was the fact that the underwire is on the outside (so, I never felt its presence on either run), the fabric is extremely comfortable and I didn't feel like the bra "gained weight" after the 10k. Can you tell this was my Towanda favorite?
The information was compiled by Lisa Sorrentino, Fit X-pert at www.X-chrom.com, November 1999. All expressions and recommendations are based on her opinions, values and test result findings. All content on this Run The Planet webpage is considered property of www.X-chrom.com. None shall be reprinted or reproduced without expressed permission to the user. Copyright © 1999 www.X-chrom.com. All rights reserved.