First things first, why is a sports bra so important?
Whether your workout of choice is a run, HIIT session or lifting weights, even moderate exercise puts your breasts under strain. As Helen Spalton, apparel merchandising manager at Brooks Running explains, “When a woman runs, her tissue moves in a figure of eight motion. Without the right level of support, this continuous movement can lead to discomfort and, over time, could lead to the breakdown of breast tissue.” Sounds scary, but it’s true – whether you’re an A or E cup, without the right support and fit, gravity will take its toll. Without a properly fitting sports bra, the delicate ligaments in your breast can stretch irreversibly.
What are the signs your sports bra isn’t working for you?
You’ll soon be able to tell if you’re wearing an unsupportive style. Discomfort and breast pain post-workout is the most common sign you’ve got the wrong fit, but keep an eye out for straps that are digging into your skin, or if your bra band is riding up your back, too. If you’ve been wearing the same size sports bra for years, it could also be worth restocking. As Helen says: “We really encourage women to get refitted regularly as bodies change shape frequently. We are also in an era of sports bra innovation, so you may find something new that you love.”
How should a sports bra fit?
“A correctly fitting sports bra should first and foremost be comfortable, not like you’re being restricted,” Helen says. “The bottom band should be secure and the cups totally filled, but your bra shouldn’t feel so tight that it’s uncomfortable. As a general rule of thumb, ‘secure’ means you should be able to fit two fingers under the band/straps, but not comfortably more than two. With the right fitting bra, your straps should stay in place on the shoulder without digging in or sliding off, and the bottom band should sit level around the body without riding up at the back. The cup shape is also important, and you should make sure there’s no spilling at the neckline or conversely no gaping open cup.”
If you have a larger bust, what details you should look out for?
“With a larger bust there is more weight to the tissue, so the right support is important to control the motion that more volume produces. Often, with the added weight it’s helpful to have slightly wider straps to help disperse any tension,” Helen advises. Those with a bigger cup size should also consider looking for an encapsulating sports bra – these tend to have two cups like a normal bra, but with extra support. Compression bras, on the other hand, are usually pulled over your head and are better suited to smaller bust sizes.
How long should a sports bra last?
Like a decent pair of trainers, your sports bra also has an expiry date. The experts say you’ll need to replace your sports bra every few months, or after around 30-40 washes. “Key signs it’s time to get a new sports bra are worn labels and bottom bands and straps that no longer provide tension for support,” Helen says. She also recommends hand washing your bras, ideally without fabric conditioner (which can break down the technology) and never tumble drying them. “We recommend having at least three sports bras you love within rotation – one to wear, one in the wash and one in the drawer waiting to be used.”
“When trying on a bra, don’t judge the support level by jumping up and down in front of a mirror. Unless all you plan on doing is jumping, you’ll want to try it out in the motion you want it to work in. If you’re a runner, go for a run in it. If you do yoga, try a downward dog. Most brands want to ensure what you purchase is working for you so don’t be scared to take them up on that offer,” Helen advises.
BEST FOR LOW IMPACT: Yoga, Pilates, walking and barre.
BEST FOR MEDIUM IMPACT: Spinning, boxing and strength training.
BEST FOR HIGH IMPACT: Running, cardio, HIIT and tennis.
*Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programmes.