This started out as a product review for the Zensah sports bra and has sort of morphed into a personal discovery that my shoulders are kind of short.
Shopping for a sports bra should be easy
I am a small lady. 5 foot 4 and normal weight. I thought that I had a normal body with regular smallish boobs. My cups do not overfloweth.
If you did not laugh when you ready overfloweth … go back and try again. I think overfloweth is a funny – and totally made up – word. 🙂
Sports bras are a specific piece of apparel and what you need depends on what sport you do. The needs for a cross fitter and the needs for a runner I think are different. So I look for high impact sports bras. And for about 25 years I bought whatever I wanted champion, nike, moving comfort, whatever and it all seemed fine.
I’m a runner and a triathlete. These are high impact activities but really since I didn’t have biggish boobs my sports bra woes have to be honest always been fairly minimal. The most common challenges for shopping for sports bras is if you have bigger boobs. I would read articles of the challenges that large chested women had and I would be thankful for my moderately sized jugs.
But that all changed last year.
Basically since I started running long distances I would wear Moving Comfort sports bras. They worked for me. Again I thought I was a pretty simple case.
I bought the simple bras without the adjustable shoulder strap because those never worked for me. The velcro stuck to everything, I never could get them tight enough and sadly after wearing nursing bras … I just couldn’t deal with the whole adjustable strap design anymore. Seriously, nursing bras were a dark time for lingerie in my life.
But, I loved one they made called the Diva. It had a light mesh back perfect for swimming, grippy grabber things that didn’t chafe my chest even in a full Ironman.
A few years ago unbeknownst to me Brooks bought Moving Comfort. So, then I bought Brooks. Stocked up for a whole year. Thought I was getting what I had had before…they looked similar. Buuuut nope.
All of a sudden, I had chaffing everywhere. On my back. How in the hell do you get chaffing on your back while running from a sports bra? This has now happened to me at least 5 times and I still don’t understand how I could chaffe on my back while running. Swimming maybe … but running? I don’t get it.
I talked to friends who commiserated and said … yes, they are now not so good. I mostly solved this issue with ample body glide and for big events continuing to wear my ancient but wonderful favorite moving comfort sports bra. It is of course, no longer made so I treasured the ones i had but still bras don’t last forever and these were well past their prime.
Onward … first step … online research
Sometime late last year I did some research looking for a new bra. I came across a review for Zensah. It won an award for best running bra for my size. From Runners World. Having learned my lesson I did not by a year’s worth I bought 2.
They arrived. They are super cute. And the fabric was really stretchy which surprised me a lot. But I figured: Hey, it won this award and they make compression gear so lets see what happens. I got two styles. One of which is low cut. I forget what they call it but I think of it as my Miami sports bra. It’s pink and I was very confident that my boobs were going to bounce right out of the top. That never actually happened but it always seemed like it could. I never knew people wanted cleavage when running … but hey it is Miami.
I have now worn them for a few months but not very often because unfortunately these bras were making me miserable.
Right now people are thinking … that’s a strong statement … probably not a great idea for you to say stuff like on your blog that plenty of people come to read. And that’s true. I do try to be careful about what I say when I’m reviewing brands. I don’t want to be mean at all. So I do try to figure out whether it’s just me.
And guess what. I have realized it’s not the bra … it might be me. My shoulders might be weirdly short. GASP!
Whenever I feel like I hate something and everybody else seems to love them I do try to check that I’m not just crazy. So I searched for some reviews and to be honest most of the reviews were raving about the Zensah. Only one I found seemed to say exactly what I was experiencing. Bounce-O-Rama!
So then I went on a forum and I asked … what do you like and like the second post was Zensah … I love Zensah. So, I realized then that I might be an outlier. This needed more thought.
So what’s the problem with the Zensah, Amy?
I will say this – I don’t chaffe in the Zensah bras. Not ever. That’s really good actually. So two good points. They are cute and they don’t chafe. I might actually give them an extra point for the no chaffing because that is a really big deal.
However, my boobs are bouncing all around and that sucks. If I wanted that to happen I wouldn’t wear a sports bra. I cannot tell you how this is a weird thing – my boobs are small enough that I can actually wear a tri suit and no bra and not have this bouncing issue. I only know this because I have occasionally forgotten to put on a sports bra with a tri top and I noticed it while I was running. This is worse than that – and that’s no support. I myself don’t even actually understand how this is possible. It’s like these sports bras are made to make my boobs painfully bounce. I don’t get it.
I literally found myself holding my boobs down while I’m running. Which probably looked ridiculous. Of course, that is one of my specialties looking ridiculous and not caring.
So, then I’m thinking (to myself … not out loud) why do these work for all these other people and not me? So, I’m shopping online and looking at the options for a new sports bra and I’m rejecting all these bras with the adjustable shoulders because those never worked for me. This is like 95 percent of the market. I know everybody else loves them – it’s all they had in the stores but it didn’t work for me.
When it hits me.
That adjustable shoulder strap design never worked for me because I could not make the strap short enough. I would tighten that thing all the way to the smallest and it would still have too much play in the fabric. I would run out of velcro. This also happens with all my strappy dresses I need adjustable straps or else they don’t fit because the straps are too long and they slide off my shoulders.
So … I’m thinking. Maybe the straps are too long for me?
Defective shoulder height … that’s me in a nutshell.
And there I am … picture this me sitting in my sports bra and I just reach over and grab the strap and lift and sure enough a lot of give. Remember that super comfy fabric well it’s resting on my shoulder and I think it fits but it’s actually very loose. This reminds me of a funny movie scene with Melissa McCarthy. Ha!
Alright so now I’m thinking my shoulder is smallish for this design. So then I go and get the ancient Diva bra to do a high tech and very scientific comparison.
I put one on top of the other on my bathroom counter and they look like they are about the same size. So in my high tech scientific comparison I stretch both shoulder straps by hand. The Zensah bra is very stretchy but the diva bra has no stretch in the shoulders. None. Probably everybody in the world except me hated that. But for me – dinky shoulder girl over here – it was perfect.
Gah! I think I’ve figured it out but my solution isn’t actually helping me here folks. I mean I guess I can alter the straps but seriously do I actually have time for that? Let’s all take a minute and imagine me hiring a seamstress to alter my sports bras. That would be funny.
Also, these bras are not made from good enough wicking fabric – for me. Again -I am apparently the only person with this problem with this brand. 99% of the other reviews say … “awesome wicking fabric.” So, the two main qualities I look for in a bra are that they keep my boobs from bouncing around – we covered that. And that they wick sweat away from my body. I live in Miami this is a big deal. Also, I swim in this bra and then I do the other stuff – I want it to dry quickly.
Miami is like the ultimate test for wicking fabric because nothing works. After a summer run you can wring out a technical tee and people who don’t know might think it’s cotton. It’s because our humidity is so high. Anyway these bras stay wet. They are soaked after a run which is gross and uncomfortable. But when I wash them and hang them to dry they take almost twice the time to dry than others in my rotation.
So obviously this is just my opinion. These bras work really well for other people. But if you have short silly dainty shoulders like me and live in the tropics – perhaps not.
If you’re interested in my opinions on other triathlon apparel things I’ve actually made them a whole page over here.
I’ll end this fabulous missive about my missized shoulders with a question – what is your favorite sports bra and why?