After my last 10 mile run I noticed that my back, shoulders and neck were aching. As a large busted runner, my first thought was “Is my bra still fitting correctly?” The next day after washing and drying it, I tried on my running bra, a 32HH Shock Absorber Max.
I looked in the mirror and the obvious was starring back at me. I’d put too many miles on my sports bra. This is something I’ve never seen nor heard mentioned in running circles. We talk so often about how many miles you should put on your shoes before replacing them and how to tell by looking at them if it’s time for a new pair, but never our sports bras. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. It makes perfect sense. Especially for busty ladies, sports bras have an expiration date.
How is it I’d overlooked this? Well that’s another “Aha” moment altogether. I never look at myself in the mirror before I go out for a run until I’m fully dressed, and by that time my mind is focusing on my run. Of course I give myself a general “once over”, but because my bra still felt snug and I hadn’t felt any noticeable bounce, it never crossed my mind to look at myself in just my sports bra in the mirror.
When I did look, the first thing I noticed was that I could see more cleavage than before. Even with the band in the correct position on my back and the straps at the same length I always wore them, there was more cleavage. The other thing that stood out to me was that the front of the band seemed to be collapsing.
I took my bra off to examine it further and although I couldn’t see any abnormalities with the straps, the band looked strange. The Shock Absorber Max does not have an underwire. It has what can only be described as a “heavy duty” elastic band. When I laid the bra out after trying it on in the mirror, I noticed the band was rippling. No matter what I did, it would not lie straight or flat.
I’m sure after taking most of the summer off from running that my posture needs work, but a new bra was way overdue. I had been wearing the same bra for over a year! This time around I’m going to be sure to periodically check for signs that my bra has too many miles on it.
How often do you replace your sports bra? For you, is there a tell-tale sign that it’s time to do so?
I actually noticed my sports bras are starting to expire on my run yesterday. I use panache sport so there’s still support but I didn’t feel quite as… immobile? as I normally do. I noticed soreness in my upper back down through my upper arm later in the day and chalked it up to working on upper body strength but now that I think about it, I wonder if it is bra related. Both run bras are getting to be about a year old, which seems to be their life span with running and riding. Considering with my mileage and modified gait I get about a year out of my running shoes, I’m okay with that.
This is why I love when y’all comment! It’s so interesting to me that although we wear a different brand, we experienced the same aching after the same period of time. Now we have to try to figure out how long we can wear them before they “expire” so we can avoid achy runs.
It’s funny, I took the same bra on a run today but used the J-hook, and no problems! That’s even with adding hillwork (not an option when visiting my hometown in the foothills of the Alleghenies.) I think the cups stretched out since I definitely haven’t lost volume recently.
Great post! Lifespan for sports bras, like regular bras, is extremely variable depending on your proportions (heavier boobs place greater strain on the bra), how often you wear it, how often you exercise, what kind of exercise, and even how much you perspire. All of these affect the materials’ lifespan and ability to “bounce back” and provide support/compression. So some women may be able to wear the same sports bra for 12-18 months while others will need to replace it after 4 months. If you get in the habit of doing a visual check every couple weeks, in most cases you can see the signs of wear before it has stretched out to the point of causing aches and pains! If you want to be super vigilant, you can also snap a picture of the bra on and off you when it is brand new, and use this as a point of comparison later on if you’re not confident in your sense of whether it’s really losing its shape and resilience.
Thank you for sharing this information. It makes perfect sense! It’s odd that I just never thought of it! I will be checking every 3 months from now on.
I just bought new running shoes the other day and was chatting with the woman who sold them to me about other running gear, and mentioned that I’d bought bras before ANYTHING else, and she said “Remember – your sports bra shouldn’t have a birthday!”
That was awesome that you found a running store worker who passed that knowledge on to you. I’ve been too many running stores and have never heard that. In fact, I’m usually telling them about sports bras! Lol
I will definitely be telling all of my running group “Your sports bra shouldn’t have a birthday.”