Irish Daily Mail

A question OF support!

We test the gold medal winning sports bra options on the High Street


FINDING a truly reliable sports bra is no mean feat, but supportive underwear is vital to a winning performanc­e — so much so that most female athletes have been wearing specially fitted and designed bras at the Tokyo Olympics.

And it’s worth investing in a good one — even if you’re not going for gold this summer. Breasts can move up to 14cm when you’re working out, and that repeated action can cause irreversib­le damage to the ligaments that hold everything in place.

Luckily, even those with a bigger cleavage are well catered for these days. Bravissimo — the go-to brand for bigger-busted women — has seen a surge in demand for sports bras since lockdowns eased (sales are up by 38 per cent on last year), and is championin­g new models designed for fuller cup sizes, up to L.

‘A great sports bra is a feat of engineerin­g,’ says Bravissimo product director, Clare Turner. ‘What big boobs need in order to be supported and comfortabl­e is really different from that of smaller boobs — it’s about more than a bra simply being a bigger size.’

Here, three writers put the latest support bras to the bounce test...

LOUISE ATKINSON, 57, plays tennis up to four times a week. She says:

IT’S tough to find sports bras supportive enough to cope with the considerab­le wobble from my 34H chest. In the past I’ve doubled up with a crop top over a bra to make sure everything is pinned down.

For tennis, I need maximum support, plus a ‘racer back’ — where the straps are joined between the shoulder blades — to allow full freedom of shoulder movement.


Freya Active Dynamic soft cup crop top sports bra (C-J cup), €60,

THIS has a perfect fit, zero bounce and, incredibly, makes me look as if I’ve had breast reduction surgery. I love the fact it’s lightweigh­t, with no wires or padding. The straps are thick for added comfort.

I’d love to say I couldn’t feel I was wearing it, but I’d be lying, because clipping the straps together at the back causes the sides to cut into my armpits. A small price to pay, though, for the complete movement-limiting bandage effect (no pain, no gain). 4/5


Pour Moi Energy Empower underwired convertibl­e sports bra (B-G cup), €31,

THIS bra is so comfortabl­e, it feels like a sleep bra — which sets alarm bells ringing. I had to shuffle off-court and change into something more structured before I could contemplat­e leaping up for a smash, or I felt I might bounce right out of it. The elastic straps are too stretchy, and there are only three hooks at the back (most bras in larger cup sizes have four) making it more suitable for yoga than anything as high-impact as tennis. 2/5


Bravissimo Apollo sports bra (E-L cup), €48,

THIS lifts and separates like an underwired bra, except it has much thicker, padded straps. I’m very excited by the shape this creates — it gives remarkable elevation, which is a novelty considerin­g most sports bras flatten your breasts into a mono-sausage. I like that it isn’t padded (I don’t need any more bulk than I’ve already got), and is made from recycled fabrics. My boobs look perky for the first time in years, but a glance in the mirror reveals rolls of back fat where the bra is cut low on the sides. 4/5

RACHAEL WOOLSTON (left), 49, founded the online women’s running platform Girls Run The World (girlsrunth­ She says:

OVER the past 15 years, my love of running has seen me go from run-commuting to doing marathons all over the world. As a 32D, I am always in pursuit of the perfect sports bra.


USA Pro High Impact Sports Bra (A-E cup), €26.40, sportsdire­

FORGET ‘modesty’ padding to prevent nipple protrusion, this bra is so thick I felt selfconsci­ous.

The average breast size is 36DD, so making breasts look bigger is not what most women want from a running bra.

Neverthele­ss, this felt comfortabl­e and supportive, with no chafing or strap marks. Sadly, the padding soaked up the sweat, and I finished feeling as though I had two damp sponges down my top. 3/5


Sweaty Betty Ultra Run Sports Bra, pictured on Rachael, left, (A-F cup), €60, sweatybett­

HURRAH for no padding! This design illustrate­s an understand­ing that women want support, not to look bigger.

It incorporat­es compressio­n technology, which hugs your breasts, and supports each to help minimise movement and potential damage to the Cooper’s ligament (which helps maintain the breasts’ structure).

With padded straps for extra comfort, I finished my run free of deep marks on my shoulders. But it only goes up to an F-cup. 4/5


Adidas Ultimate Bra (A-F cup), €60,

NO MATTER how I adjusted the straps on this bra, I was left with gaping at the cleavage. It was a shame because its crossover-style straps look good. However, I felt comfortabl­e and supported on my nine-mile trail run, which involves more breast movement due to the extra jiggle running up and down hills, and the straps didn’t leave any marks.

This one incorporat­es padding, but it is minimal and did a good job of sweat-wicking. It also has a breathable mesh back. Good for day-to-day running, but I’d prefer something more supportive for

longer trails. 3/5

CLOVER STROUD, 46, a mother of five, tries to do a HIIT class at least once a week. She says:

I’VE been doing regular HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to help shed my corona stone. But as a 36D, I find most sports bras are either too tight or nowhere near supportive enough.


M&S High Impact NonWired Sports Bra (A-E cup), €20.30, marksandsp­

THE eye-popping raspberry pink colour definitely raised my spirits. It’s crucial for me that a sports bra has no wire and as few zips as possible — I hate anything that has even the potential to rub — so I liked the simplicity of this bra. It gave me plenty of support, even while doing star jumps and squats. My only slight quibble with it is that the triple-hook fastening is tricky to do up. 4/5


Spanx Active High Impact Sports Bra (C-G cup in black), €68, brown

I WASN’T aware of how much pricier this bra was than the other two, but as soon as I had it on, I knew it was the one.

It gave me the strapped-in support and comfort I needed, I felt like physically I could push myself more.

I definitely worked out hardest in this. The straps sat in the right place and didn’t rub, even when I was really sweating, and the meshing material on the back meant it felt cool and comfortabl­e — so much so that I didn’t want to take it off. 5/5

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