A sports bra can make or break your workout. It is important to buy a sports bra that suits your workout, your body and your preferences.
Why is it important to wear a sports bra?
The importance of exercise is well known. But for some women, their breasts prevent them from exercising. In a survey of 249 women, 17% said they stopped exercising because they couldn’t find a sports bra that fit or because they were ashamed of the movement of their breasts.
Minimize chest movements. During vigorous exercise like running and jumping, unsupported breasts can move as much as 12 inches. This type of movement can cause back or chest pain.
Research has shown that there is less chest movement and discomfort when wearing high-impact sports bras compared to everyday bras. If you have small breasts, you should still wear a sports bra during exercise. Researchers found that women with smaller cup sizes also had significant breast movements during exercise.
Prevent chest damage. Exercising without a sports bra can put stress on the skin on your breasts and stretch the breast tissue.
Improve the posture. Heavy breasts can pull your body forward and make you limp.
Types of Sports Bras
There are two main types of sports bras.
- Arm compression. This type of sports bra presses your breasts against your body. It is more suitable for those with smaller cup sizes.
- Encapsulation bras. Like a regular bra, it has two cups to separate the breasts for individual support.
How much support do you need?
How much support you need depends on:
Age. The elasticity of your skin decreases with age. Your breasts are largely supported by the skin that covers them. Older women typically need more bra support than younger women.
Type of exercise. The amount of support your breasts need will depend on the exercise you are doing. Doing more vertical movements, such as jumping, can cause more chest movements.
Bra size. If you have a larger bra size, you will need a more supportive bra.
If you’re younger, have smaller breasts, and do less straining exercises, a compression bra may work. If you’re older, have large breasts, and do more vigorous exercise, such as running, choose a more supportive, encapsulated sports bra. You may need different sports bras for different workouts.
How to choose the right sports bra
When buying a sports bra, pay attention to the fit. A good sports bra should minimize chest movement, but not be so tight that it affects your breathing. Here are some things to look for when buying a sports bra:
- Measure. If you’ve never worn a sports bra before, start with your daily bra size.
- belts. The straps should be padded and at least 1 inch wide so they don’t dig into your shoulders or slide off your shoulders.
- cups. Make sure your breasts are completely covered by the cups. Choose seamless cups that won’t chafe your nipples.
- Band. The band should be wide and made of strong elastic material. Larger cup sizes may need wider straps.
- Clamp. If you prefer a sports bra with an underwire, make sure that the underwire fits well on your breasts.
- Material. Choose a bra made of synthetic fibers such as Lycra. These will breathe and wick away moisture.
- Comfort. Hooks and closures should be covered with fabric or some kind of cushioning material. Likewise, covered seams won’t rub against your skin. If your skin is sensitive, apply some petroleum jelly to areas prone to chafing, such as your ribcage, armpits, and shoulders.
When buying a sports bra, try a few different styles and brands. Jog in place and jump up and down. This way you can see if it is supportive enough.
How to care for your sports bras
Here’s how to get the most out of your sports bras:
- Twist your sports bras. This allows them to retain their shape and elasticity.
- If possible, wash your sports bra and other sportswear right after your workout.
- If you can’t wash it right away, try not to leave your damp gym clothes crammed into your laundry basket or gym bag. Put them in a place where they can dry quickly. This helps prevent bacterial growth and odors.
- Follow the washing instructions on the product label. Some synthetic materials may not be machine washable.
- Do not use fabric softener. This can clog synthetic fibers and stop the ability to wick away sweat.
- Do not use hot water or bleach. This can damage the synthetic fibres.
- Put sports bras in a mesh laundry bag so they don’t get tangled with your other clothes.
- Consider air drying your sports bras. This helps protect their shape and fit.