What to know and what to look out for to protect your breasts.
There’s no doubt that finding the right sports bra gets harder as breasts get bigger. Large breasts are defined as D-cup and above, and it’s from this size onwards that sports bra design often changes to better support larger, heavier breasts during exercise.
We know, thanks to various studies, that larger-breasted women tend to do less physical activity, often citing breast movement and pain. But lack of information about how to get a suitable sports bra leads to an almost self-perpetuating problem.
In a study by the University of Wollongong, researchers found that many larger-breasted women didn’t know how to find the right bra, so often wound up exercising in an ill-fitting sports bra, or the wrong style of sports bra.
This may sound innocuous at first, but it kicks off a vicious cycle as so:
An ill-fitting bra means more breast movement during exercise. This makes pain and discomfort more likely. When physical activity is painful/ uncomfortable then women do it less. A lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, including increased breast mass. As breasts get larger the sports bra is even less suited to the job …
Women in the study were essentially stuck in a big-breast-bad-bra loop.
A 2018 study found that women with large breasts spent 37% less time participating in physical activity than women with small breasts; particularly doing less high-intensity physical activity.
With this and other such evidence emerging, some wily researchers concluded not so long ago that women with larger breasts should select activities that are more appropriate for women with large breasts, such as water-based activities.
Women shouldn’t have to modify the exercise they do because of their breasts. They need simply (OK, it’s not always so simple) to find breast support that works while they do the sport they love.
Sports such as netball, with all the jumping, running and turning, probably isn’t the most breast-friendly sport for bigger busts … but it is still possible to love every moment of it whether your cups are AA or J.
At The Well HQ, we’ve worked alongside pro athletes with every breast-size imaginable.
What’s best for big breasts?
Of the three main styles of bras (compression, encapsulation and combination), encapsulation bras are seen as the heroes for bigger boobs.
Excitingly, we’re now seeing advances in fabric technology and new and exciting designs that maximise breast support. There are some gamechangers on their way for women with larger breasts but let’s not get carried away just yet – as with all breast sizes, first and foremost it’s all about fit.
See our fitting guidance here.
Bigger breasts: what to look for in a sports bra
These design styles separate the breasts and offer well rounded support for each within the bra. Look for medium-to-heavyweight fabric with less stretch, lycra for example, so it provides more support.
A higher neckline often offers more support, and also means that all of your breast tissue is enclosed in the cups of the bra. Bear this in mind when testing prospective bras.
Thicker straps will distribute the weight of the breasts over a wider surface area. This means more support and less digging in. Although the straps of a bra account for just 20% of breast support, spaghetti straps won’t be enough to pull their weight in supporting larger breasts.
And while research suggests that a racer back or shoulder strap designs don’t affect the performance of the bra, a racer back may help distribute the weight of heavier breasts more widely and evenly across the back and take pressure off the shoulders.
One of those newer concepts we mentioned, some sports bra designs now include an overband, which is a curved panel in the bra that runs over the top of the breasts, to reduce upward motion when exercising. It is specially designed to distribute pressure more evenly across the breasts.
Figure of 8 support
Another newer addition to the sports bra rack, Wrapa® is an engineered / contoured inner layer that supports your breasts without compression. It basically creates a scaffolding around each breast without having to squash the tissue down. In other words, it means no compression.
Top picks for netballers with D cup or above breast size:
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding a brilliant bra. Different brands and designs will suit different women. However, there are some top performers when it comes to bras that are especially suited for bigger breasts and netball.
Please note – no one gets any commission or revenue if you buy through these links. We genuinely think these are the best of what’s out there.
In most cases we link you straight to the manufacturer but please do your own research, particularly when it comes to price!
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