11 November 2012

Bikes and Boobs: The Importance of a Good Bra...


This can be a rather personal subject but I wanted to talk about the importance of a good Bra when on a bike. Due to my Scoliosis, my body-shape goes though a lot of changes & has seen a lot more of since I took up cycling - especially my Breasts... so I finally went on a quest for a decent Sports Bra... 

The last time I had a Fitting was in a well known high-street store when I was in my late teens. My Bra size always remained the same with their lingerie, so I stuck with them, including every time I needed a new Sports Bra. Yes, this wasn't the smartest move, especially when you realise 80% of women wear the wrong bra size & it's suggested you should be fitted every 6 months! Staying with what I knew seemed to be doing the job, until I really started to clock something didn't feel quite right. The more I cycled, the more it didn't feel comfortable around my chest in my 'normal' bras; so I opted for my Sports Bras - there was barely any change comfort-wise, my boobs would still ache and the fitting was awful...

There was no way I could be the only woman suffering with bra-problems when cycling, so I called out to fellow female riders on twitter with the question: "How important is it to you to have a good Sports Bra, cycling hard or not when on your bike?" The resounding reply to that? "very important!" Some of the answers ranged from hating the hardware of a normal bra digging into you while road cycling, needing something more compressive when MTB, not wanting to drench a nice bra in sweat, being more comfortable on bumpy surfaces, and a Sports Bra feeling much better when it's a super hot day. After seeing the responses to that question, and a long period of being in shitty-fitting bras, it was time to take action and get this sorted out!

I wanted to go to somebody who knew their bras and would offer a quality fitting service. Doing some research, one place kept on coming up on my radar; Rigby and Peller. They also saw my lamenting on twitter about the never ending quest for a good bra & invited me to try them. Established over 70 years ago and holding Royal Warrant as Corsetiere to The Queen; they certainly had a good reputation in the business... so I decided to take them up on their offer & give them a go. I was intrigued (and somewhat sceptical) about their Bra Fitting process; how could you size someone, without using a tape measure? The thought of it was a bit strange to me, until my personal Fitting session started & it all fell into place.
As Zawadie (pictured above) explained as she was sizing me & my boobs up, all R&P fitters are expertly trained to assess each individual customer. A tape measure cant take into consideration your body shape - something which really struck a chord with me, especially in light of my Scoliosis. I'm pleased this is one of the first things she noticed about me - the curve in my Spine and my posture are pretty prominent when you see the back of me with no clothes on, but this was never picked-up on in previous fittings, even when I brought the matter up. We discussed the pain I'd suffer when cycling and how proper support was needed around my back and boobs... and how ill fitting the Bra I'd walked in wearing was. Immediately she detected that it was the wrong size and that as a larger-breasted woman, I'd need a strong wide band and wider straps. For cycling, I'd need the same in a Sports Bra, but in good compressive material covering the whole breast. Again - all of this without a tape measure...

She popped out of the changing room, and re-appeared with a normal Bra (which was stunning) and several Sports ones to try on. The normal bra was to ascertain my correct size (which was an eye opener compared to the size I'd always stuck to) and then we went though the Sports range. Things like colour the material has been dyed can affect the fit, and after testing them all out, I finally found THE Sports Bra I wanted to buy...
Although designed specifically for running, the Shock Absorber Run Sports Bra felt like the perfect one for cycling in. Good compressive material, no wires, correct cup size to hold'em in and the support system at the back felt comfortable on my Spine! This was long-overdue, and also quite emotional to see my posture looking correct for the first time in years.

It's SO important to wear the correct sized Bra and makes a world of difference - not just because it can change your posture and looks good, but the health reasons alone are enough to get yourself sorted. Whatever type of exercise you do, your Breasts will move - be it running, working out in the gym or cycling. Whether you're going hard on your bike or not, it's worth thinking about how much pressure you are putting on your breasts:

  • ill fitting Bras can lead to health problems including headaches, Back and Shoulder issues
  • damage / pain can be caused to breast ligaments & there is a higher chance of sagging
  • one of the biggest mistakes women make is wearing a bra too small in the cup and too big in the back - when your bust gets bigger, it's often your cup size increasing, not your Back
Although I wish I'd did this much earlier in life, I'm glad that I finally sorted out my correct Bra size and will feel a lot more comfort when I'm cycling. As I said, this is a bit of an intimate / personal thing to blog about, but it's something that I really wanted to share with all you cycling ladies out there if it means you'll look into getting sized properly and look after those Boobs on your bike!

I had my Personal Fitting done at the Mayfair Rigby and Peller store in Central London. Further information on R&P stores and Fitting Services can be found on their website. I'd like to give a HUGE thank-you to the team there for looking after me, and not getting spooked at taking pictures of me in the Bra for this post :)
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10 comments

Roisin Muldoon said...

Amazing the difference that a well-fitting bra can make. This was a lovely post, Jools. Thanks so much for sharing! x

Lady Vélo said...

@Roisin: I'm glad you enjoyed the piece - thank you! The difference is indeed amazing and has really made me think twice about being in the correct sized bra / making sure I get measured frequently. It's got to be done x

Ellomennopee said...

Thank you so much for this post, it's brilliant. I can definitely recommend Bravissimo for the larger busts. You should also check out this blog from a woman whose passion is creating awareness about wearing the right size!

http://fullerfigurefullerbust.com/category/bra-fitting/

Simply Bike said...

GREAT post! No one every talks about this but a good fitting bra is so important. My bra sized changes recently while pregnant, then again after having my baby and breastfeeding, and now that we're about to be done with the breastfeeding, my boobs are yet again another size. It's a bit frustrating and it also feels like I don't want to invest in a good bra quite yet since my body continues to change. But it's probably money well spent given the impact on posture, wellness, etc.

Thanks for tacking this topic and for the great reminder!

S.

Amy said...

Jools! Thank you so much for posting this! And reminding me that I really ought to be fitted again (since it's been YEARS...) I have a bad habit if just wearing those tank-tops with the built in "shelf" bra - not the best in the support department. :/ I shall go soon! And get myself regular bras as well as a good sports bra. Thanks! :)

Bike to Work said...

So happy to see a woman talking about those intimate things that really affect our cycling comfort! Thank you!

kath said...

What a brilliant story. I myself am an experienced bra fitter at Debenhams and like the advice you were given I would completely agree. Every bra does fit differently and would recommend you get checked regularly to feel the difference from a good fitting bra against an ill fitting bra. Regards kath

Dichohecho said...

Hurrah for bra epiphanies!
I worked as a fitter in Debenhams in my gap year & it was eye-opening. I'd never been fitted myself and had got it pretty wrong. I spent a lot of time evangelising about properly fitting bras.
The Invest In Your Chest blog is an interesting one, they concentrate on larger cup sizes (and smaller bands) and do loads of reviews.
I think that it is a subject that more people need to be aware of. Most women will have no idea what a properly fitting bra looks or feels like, and how would they? I always think that someone like Gok Wan or Trinny & Susannah should have some sort of campaign. They usually have a fitting as part of a makeover but it's rather brushed over & does nothing to counter the myth that you ARE a particular size & can just buy bras without trying them on.

Ted Juhl said...

I think you've found the right undergarment for your needs. Choosing the right bra to support your body for a specific activity is an important thing. For bikers like you, a medium or high-impact bra is necessary for support of your movements in a high-impact sport. :)

Regards,
Ted

Anonymous said...

I have the Shock Absorber too Lady Velo - I use mine for road-cycling & running & I love em :) They come in cute colors too. Enjoy! Maya.

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