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It’s more about fitness than fashion:

Want to exercise but not sure what to wear?
By Amanda Ferguson
Date: May 16 2013
Editor Rating:

One of the most common questions I get with a new client starting an exercise program – even if they’re experienced – is What should I wear?

Starting or changing an exercise program might be as good a time as any to go shopping or at least check what gear is best for what you want to do, and what you need.

There are three critical items of clothing you need to get right when exercising.

1.  Shoes

Shoes are VERY important – in fact, feet are. It would be best to get them correctly fitted by a professional so they measure your feet correctly. A good footwear company will watch how you walk or run and then determine the best shoe and fit for your foot. They will look at things like the arches of your feet, whether or not you pronate or supernate (feet roll inwards or outwards), and how you land on your feet. All these things can determine which brand of shoe is right for you so it becomes less of a ‘fashion’ decision and more about a comfort one.  Brooks, Asics, New Balance, Saucony, Nike etc are right for you. I know that Active Feet in Melbourne do a free assessment. Getting the right shoes for your feet will help avoid injuries and pain.

If you suffer from sore knees, hips, lower back, sore arches, shin splints, blisters - it could mean your shoes are right for your feet!

2.  Bra

Did you know that if you don’t wear a supportive and correctly fitted sports bra during exercise, you could end up with permanent breast damage? This is important for all women, not just those who are bigger breasted. Here are all the reasons you need to wear a good supportive, fitted sports bra:

Larger breasted women can experience tension and strain in the upper back and neck if you aren’t wearing a good sports bra. The additional weight in the front means your back muscles have to work harder to keep your shoulders back and down. Make sure you are conscious of your posture to reduce any additional pain.

You might end up with saggy boobs syndrome (SBS). You can get it if you don’t wear a good sports bra. Did you know that during high-energy, high-impact sports (like running), your breasts can move up to 10 or more centimetres. This can cause your Cooper’s ligaments (the ones that support your breasts) to stretch beyond repair, which isn’t good. This applies to smaller breasted women as well.

Size does not affect the negative effects of bouncing breasts. A 2007 study by the University of Portsmouth found that 50% of women complained of breast pain during exercise. If you experience pain during exercise, go and get fitted for a new sports bra ASAP.

Not wearing the right bra can affect your performance, fitness and weight loss goals. The same University of Portsmouth study found that running strides are affected by swinging breasts, which could stop you from reaching your goals. If you can’t run as fast as you could, because your breasts are in the way, imagine if they are supported correctly, your technique and stride would automatically improve, leading to you being able to run harder and faster, which leads to results being reached!

Another recent study found each breast moved independently of the body by an average of 9cm for every step taken.  The reason you need to wear a sports bras is because they have been specially designed to absorb the shock of bouncing and reduce stress on the ligaments which cause breast sag.

There are two types of sports bras available: one that is designed to compress or one that is designed to provide a protective capsule for each breast. Some sports bra can even do both.

  • Compression sports bras are the most popular, mainly because they are the most stylish option. They flatten the breasts against the chest, which reduces breast movement. Women with small or medium breasts will find this type of bra most suitable, for any type of training. If you are a C cup or above, you won’t get much support from this type of sports bra.
  • Encapsulation sports bras look more like our everyday bras and some types will also have an underwire for additional support. These types of bras work by supporting each breast by surrounding them and supporting each breast individually, rather than just pinning the breasts down to the chest. This type of bra is most suitable for women with large breasts, (DD or bigger), because they minimise bounce, but also distribute the weight of the chest between the bra and the shoulders, which helps to minimise back and shoulder pain.
  • If you are a C or D cup, finding a sports bra that is both compression/encapsulation would be best. These sports bras work by both flattening and surrounding each breast to provide optimal support.

If you lose weight, or change body shape you need to go and get refitted for a new sports bra, as the size of your breasts are also likely to change.

3.  Clothing

Wearing comfortable clothing is important. You don't want to constantly be pulling your pants or shorts up or pulling your tops down cause they are too short. You want to make sure you have the right clothes for the right weather. If you train outside, it might be wise to have a rain jacket for when it rains, a hat for when the sun is out and some gloves for when it gets colder. Shorts for summer; longer pants for winter. singlet top for summer; long sleeve top for winter. If you are doing lots of running, have a look at compression pants. You will also want a jumper/jacket to wear for warm up/cool down as well.

You want to feel confident and comfortable in the workout gear you have, so go and buy yourself something new, so you feel your best when you go and there an exercise!  And whatever you do, go for comfort and functionality, rather than pure fashion!

Good luck!

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