December 16, 2011
Peeve of the Week: I hate how my sports bra straps leave angry red marks on my shoulders!
I feel your pain! In fact, one of the things that propelled me into sports bra research in the first place were the bleeding abrasions on my shoulders and chest after my first 26-mile marathon!
When it comes to sore shoulders, the two main perpetrators are friction (rubbing) and pressure (weight).
Friction: Painful rubbing happens when bra straps are too rough and scratchy. The culprit may be a harsh strap fabric, or (especially!) rows of stitching with a too-scratchy thread. The tighter an itchy strap hugs your shoulder, the harder it rubs and wreaks havoc on your tender skin. If you’ve ever worked with sandpaper, you know that the harder you press, the more material you remove. It’s the same with your skin—rough rubbing can literally remove cells from its very outer layer, which leaves you red and raw. If your sports bra is so old and thrashed that the straps have lost all their stretch, you may be cinching them too short trying to find support, which adds to your friction woes.
Pressure: Extra pressure on your shoulders from your sports bra straps only compounds the problem. It’s easy to create this mark-making stress if your straps are too narrow or lack the cushioning you need for the size and weight of the ‘girls’. I can’t tell you how many full-figured women have showed me permanent dents in the tops of their shoulders from strap pressure!
How to Get Relief!
To nip friction in the bud, be really picky about how the inner side of your bra strap feels when you rub it across your skin. When I’m checking out a new style, I actually grab the ends of the strap with both hands, stretch it tight, and ‘floss’ it back and forth across my cheek to gauge its prickle potential. If a few rubs on the cheek are uncomfortable, just imagine how the top of your shoulder is going to feel after a couple of miles of running! Also, if the straps are adjustable, you can customize how tightly they hug and rub your tender shoulder tops. For long-distance events, also give friction-reducing body lubes a try.
To ease pressure, your first strategy is to look for a wider strap, especially if you’re a D cup or above. It’s kind of simple physics: If you double the width of the strap, you can cut pressure per square inch almost in half. For a really comfy ride, look for a sports bra with substantial cushioning in the part of the strap that rides over the top of your shoulder (Champion’s Double Dry+ Spot Comfort Full-Support bra is a perfect example). Another way to take pressure off the straps is to spread the load-carrying around to other parts of your bra. Features like underwires, side support panels, wider bottom bands that can adjust, and strong ‘back wings’ all help to share the weight-bearing so the straps don’t have to work as hard.
Do you have a fave bra that’s solved your sore shoulder woes? Spill it here so the rest of us can steal the benefit, and do have a wonderful workout week!!