Why do we need a high impact front closure Sports Bra for high impact exercise?
The reason most of us would never consider working out without a suitable support solution has a pretty straight forward reason… the actual natural support systems in our breasts are inherently weak. Whether they were even designed to cope with the demands of sports and exercise I don’t know?!
The natural support system of our breasts is the skin and the Coopers ligaments. Both are weak and any damage done to them is irreversible.
If our skin is repeatedly stretched and strained it will permanently stretch. And the Coopers ligaments which are a thin weave like formation of ligaments similar in size to strands of hair will also rupture if they are taken beyond their desired range of motion.
This is why we need a Sports Bra when we exercise. The “natural” systems won’t cut it in the real world, they don’t adequately work to limit the displacement of our breasts during activity.
How do our breasts bounce during activity?
Most women are aware that our breasts will “bounce” during activity, but the truth is it’s a little more complicated than that.
When we do high intensity activity our breasts will move, or displace, in three different directions. Up and down, side to side and in and out.
A good high impact Sports Bra will work to limit the breasts displacement in all three of these directions. But it will never stop it all together. Researchers actually believe that stopping breast displacement all together would not be a good thing. Rather, we want to reduce the breast displacement to a significantly reduced amount resulting in a more comfortable and less traumatic experience for our breast. The aim is to ensure that the skin and the coopers ligaments are stretched and strained beyond repair.
Most Sports Bra brands aim to produce product that will lead to a reduction of 50-60% of breast bounce when compared to a bare breast bounce during activity (ouch, I wouldn’t want to be in those clinical trials!).
How does a High Impact Front Closure Sports Bra deliver its support?
There are two methods/approaches a bra will use to support our breasts during activity.
- The Compression method – this involves compressing the breast tissue against our chest during activity. This limits the distance of the breast from the body and leads to a reduction in breast bounce. Some ladies love this approach, others don’t.
- The Encapsulation method – this involves separating the breasts and cradling each breast with a structured cup. The breast is not flattened. Some ladies feel better with this style of support as it gives a more natural shape.
- A combination of both of these methods – this involves some degree of separation/encapsulation with an overlying compressive layer. This is sort of the best of both worlds in my opinion. My experience in the change room would certainly suggest women tend to really like this approach. The feel secure but still shapely to some degree.
Just remember, it’s not the underwire that supports the breast tissue as such. In actual fact, I think you’ll find that most high impact front closure Sports Bras actually don’t have underwire at all. This is because it’s hard to add a significant enough amount of compression to the style if there is underwire built in to the bra.
A note about zip front Sports Bras
When a zip front Sports Bra is good it can be really good! When they are bad… they are REALLY bad! Please be careful with buying zip front Sports Bras that aren’t otherwise highly recommended by a trusted source. There truly is a lot of rubbish out there. If the zip isn’t appropriately covered it can’t cause significant rubbing. Also, if the bra isn’t fitted right even a well designed zip up bra can cause chaffing due to the zip element.
Here’s a list of my favourite Front Closure High Impact Sports Bras for 2020:
Enell Sports Bra
Made famous my Oprah many moons ago, the Enell Sports Bra is hard to go past as a rockstar high impact Sports Bra.
The Enell Sports Bra really relies on the compression method to deliver it’s support. There’s not much separation going on there. I always say this style works best for those wanting to feel like their breasts are suctioned against their body. It truly does just get them “out the way” so you can get on with it.
The full back and wide straps are another great feature. And the unqiue fabrication that truly doesn’t stretch out makes this one built to last. I am a BIG fan!
The thing to know about Enell is that they produce their sizes in size 00 – 8, so you have to be roughly speaking the right dimensions for any of their sizes in order for it to work. So some ladies can’t make this option work. They have a great size chart that helps guide you through choosing a size.
Brooks Dare Zip Run Bra
When I first saw this style I wasn’t so sure to be honest. The materials are lighter than I am used to seeing in a high impact Sports Bra and that worried me.
But truth be told once I took mine out for a spin I really enjoyed the feel of this on the run. It’s a little less “suction down” than the Enell Sport and that was refreshing for longer periods of wear.
The Zipper has a little latch under it to help zip this up with ease.
I also enjoyed the broad, soft straps and full back design. Oh and the seamless finish on the material is pretty special too – i think it adds to the overall “lightness” I mentioned.
The Brooks Dare Zip Run Bra is Available in 30 – 40, A – E cup.
Anita Active Petite to Plus Size Front Closure Sports Bra
Anita Active is well known in our industry for high quality fabrication and design, and the Anita Active Petite to Plus Size Front Closure Sports Bra definitely lives up to that.
Similarly to the Brooks Dare Zip above, this styles feels “light on”. I feel secure and supported without feeling like I am wearing a all encompassing device of a bra.
The strap adjustability is easy to manoeuvre from the front, using a good quality velcro, but as I always say bras that don’t have a lot of elastic in the strap will not actually need to be altered regularly, if at all. This is certainly a benefit.
I found this style fits true to size, but do note that Anita do not produce a DD or DDD cup, so their E cup is really an American DD cup. Don’t let that confuse you 🙂 I have also read reviews that this style fits small around the ribcage band, but I didn’t find that at all. I would suggest that like any front closure sports bra they can be harder to first do up – but this needs to be the case as they will not otherwise offer adequate breast control.
Available in size 30 – 44, A – E (their E cup = American DD cup).
Yvette Sports Bra Plus Size
The Yvette Plus Size Sports Bra has a great traditional and slightly youthful design and feel. A great option for medium to perhaps some impact support in my opinion.
The more traditional sports bra back design makes it a nice fashion piece under sports gear too. The cup design also leans towards a natural shape. This style is trying to offer both some encapsulation and compression support.
A unique feature of the Yvette Zip Sports Bra is that you can adjust the firmness around the band from each side of the bra (as pictured), which makes for a great tailored fit and gives you the ability to firm it up if it stretches.
The Yvette Plus Size Zip Sports Bra claims it can fit up to an F cup in it’s ‘Plus’ version but in my personal experience and from having read reviews I do think it’s best for a size C-DD cup.
Champion Motion Control Zip Sports Bra
I chose to include this Champion style because I truly love the way it marries fashion and function pretty well. After all, we all deserve to feel great when we are working out.
There are a few great features about this style that I want to share, but before I do, I would suggest that this style is most suited to medium – high impact activity. It’s a little lighter than the Enell Sport, Dare Zip Run Bra and the Anita Active Frontline Open bra.
Things I really enjoyed about the Champion Motion Control Zip bra are the lightly moulded cups that left a great natural shape, the straps that had full adjustability from the back and the fact that I felt like I was wearing something pretty fashionable when I hit the road in this. The back design is pretty special!
Available in 34 – 42, B – DD.
A quick note about getting in to a Front Closure Sports Bra…
While you may not truly want to hear this, I do have to make sure you know it… Front Closure Sports Bras will certainly be easier to get in and out of than a traditional Sports Bra BUT you can’t expect them to be really easy to whip on.
In order for a Sports Bra to function it needs to be firm. This means we want you to have to put some effort in to getting the hooks/zip done up, otherwise you just won’t get the control out of it that you need to. I generally say that a Front opening Sports Bra should be tough to get done up, but not impossible.
Just keep that in mind when you go to try your new bra on.