Fitness Fashion Week: Fight The Bounce

A few months ago, after a multi-year absence from the gym, I decided to start working out again.  My motivation was simple: I’m quickly approaching 30, and if I don’t start taking care of my heart and lungs now, I will probably regret it at 50.  So it was with a disgruntled soul and a less than motivated body that I started running again. 

Because it had been such a long time, I asked a neighbor who works as a personal trainer to give me a few pointers on improving my form.  Imagine my surprise when her first suggestion was that I buy a more supportive sports bra.  “No bounce.  Bounce is bad.” 

Unsure whether this was some inside joke used by personal trainers to punish rubes who’ve avoided the gym for a solid half-decade, I did some Internet research and discovered that breast injury is in fact, a real thing.

Who knew?

Apparently, because the breast muscle is buried so deep in the tissue it doesn’t provide your girls with a lot of support.  Instead, your breasts are held up by ligaments that don’t have the strength to deal with the shock and movement caused by strenuous activity.  As a result, “runners bounce” stretches and strains these ligaments, which over time, causes saggy breasts. 

(Feel free to gasp in horror. God knows I did.)

While bounce is a problem for all women, it is particularly disconcerting for me.  For nearly a decade, I have proudly referred to my minimal bust as “gravity defying.”  Why?  Because one day, when we’re old and grey, the large-chested women will find their breasts have fallen into their shoes while mine will still be in their original location.  (The revenge of the flat-chested is sweet indeed.) 

Thus, the idea that I could be damaging my chance for retribution is terrifying.  I must prevent The Bounce at all costs.

If you too would like to protect your bust (ample, flat or otherwise) from the dreaded Bounce, you need to buy a more supportive sports bra.  The trainer recommended a compression level four.  Sadly, some of these bras are more conical than should be allowed, but others are fairly normal.


BounceBGone Compression Bra (Cabela’s, $28)

Champion Powerback Sports Bra (Athleta, $40)

Shock Absorber Sports Bra (Figleaves, $36)


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  1. Liz says:

    Uhh, scuse me?! I had no idea! I have also looked forward to the 20 years from now when my large-chested friends look at my bust with envy. Thanks for the tip and the affordable suggestions ­čÖé

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  2. Zoe says:

    I have been using athleta to get supportive sports bras since I was in college. Its a great investment especially for someone with large breasts. And even though I have a large bust, it too is gravity defying. No need to hate on those of us that are more endowed.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  3. Stephanie says:

    Now THIS is a useful post on fitness! Athleta sports bras are awesome, and definitely worth the money (I used to wear Nike ones, but they just don’t compete with the ones I own from Athleta). I’ll have to check out these other brands, too.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  4. E says:

    What? Us small chested women have to fear the bounce too???? Indeed, life is not fair.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  5. Jay says:

    Another tip: Wear a heart monitor chest strap. I started using one to monitor my heart rate a number of years ago and immediately noticed the added benefit of the complete elimination of bounce. I’m small chestedl, but imagine it would work for larger-chested gals. And, anyone serious about exercise – especially aerobic – should be monitoring their heart rate to make sure they are hitting their targets.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  6. Emily says:

    Hi Belle,
    As an athlete,runner, and very well-endowed reader of your blog, I’d like to highlight that none of the above bras would be supportive enough for anyone with size D breasts or above. I’d like to recommend the “Last Resort Sports Bra” which changed my life in high school and is still the only sports bra in my drawer. It can be found at Title Nine Sports. I highly recommend it if any of your readers find these selections just don’t cut it.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  7. Scarlett says:

    As a 36DD I have always avoided running because of this very issue envying the dedication of my marathon addicted friends. The Fig Leaves one is pretty – I might give it a try! Thx, belle!

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  8. Kelseytc says:


    I also have large tatas and find that I need a bra with under-wire. That is the only way I can run or play rugby. Otherwise it looks like a burlesque club.

    If the bra is showing than it should be attractive- but if it is just under a shirt than buy what is comfortable. And holds the girls down.

    Personally I like the VS sport.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  9. Jill says:

    I recommend the kind that hook in the back like a regular bra — easier to remove post-sweaty workout.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  10. Belle says:

    Thanks Emily. Sadly, D is never a number that will appear in my bra size.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  11. KLo says:

    36DDD here – I wear two Champion cotton sized Medium sports bras (yes, Medium) and I get no bounce. And I rarely feel too tight around the band.

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  12. Rory says:

    Anybody know anywhere that carries sports bras–or any bras–for ladies whose cup sizes run in the middle of the alphabet?

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  13. KLo says:

    Rory: you might want to check with and the shirt maker, Carissa Rose. They might be able to point you in the right direction!

    July 22, 2010/Reply
  14. Rory says:

    Thank you so much, Klo! I’ve never been to a site that had that much selection!

    July 23, 2010/Reply
  15. ali says:

    Lululemon carries larger and more uncommon sizes like 32DD, which is a lifesaver for me because it offers a ton of support and they use that silver infused technology so the bra doesnt smell as bad as you do after use.

    July 23, 2010/Reply
  16. Maggie says:

    Thank you to Emily for suggesting the Last Resort Sports Bra! I’ve never heard of it before but just ordered one. I am large chested, work out in moderation, ride horse and play golf – never before have I seen a bra that looks perfect for all three activities!

    July 23, 2010/Reply
  17. Erica says:

    Lululemon’s TaTa Tamer is amazing!!! The straps have shoulder pads which is a nice touch. Back hook closure. I can do my 45 minute runs in them!! Worth the few extra bucks.

    July 26, 2010/Reply