Find the Right Sports Bra

sports bra

Wearing a sports bra while exercising is important as it helps prevent breast injury by supporting breast tissue.

Proper fit of the sports bra

If you are thinking about your bra when you are working out it is a sure bet that the sports bra is not the correct one for you. An ill fitted sports bra can decrease athletic performance.

If the sports bra is too tight, skin irritation can occur which can lead to skin breakdown.

If the sports bra is too loose the breast will not be supported enough. Breast support is needed as the breast themselves are only supported by skin and ligaments referred to as Cooper’s ligaments. Both the skin and Cooper’s ligaments can stretch over time which will result in sagging breasts. The purpose of a sports bra is to prevent bounce which places stress on the breast tissue.

What are the different types of sports bras?

sports braCompression sports bras

A compression bra is just that, it compresses the breast.  Compression bras minimize movement by pressing flat against your chest. Usually, compression sports bras do not have built in cups and may give a uni-boob appearance. Compression sports bras are good for low- to moderate-impact workouts in women who have small to moderate size breasts.

Compression sports bras are good for low- to moderate-impact workouts in women who have small to moderate size breasts.

Usually,  compression sports bra do not offer as much support as other sports bras.

Encapsulation sports bras

This type of bra will separate the breasts as there are individual cups to surround and support each breast separately. This type of bra usually gives more shape than a compression bra which can flatten the breasts.

The separated cups allow the breasts to breathe better compared to bras that compress the breasts together.

Combination of compression and encapsulation sports bra

This type of bra works well for high impact workouts.

Walking would be an example of a low impact workout whereas running is an example of a high impact workout. You do not need to be using the same type of bra for yoga as you go running with.

Perspiration

In my last blog, I discussed the importance of proper clothing while exercising as skin irritation occurs more commonly with perspiration.

Some bras will have material that can help absorb perspiration. These types of sports bras are ideal for exercises where perspiration is anticipated such as cycling and weight lifting.

Wicking material

Different materials are available to help wick away the sweat

Although both polyester and rayon repel sweat, some of the newer polyesters blends can absorb moisture. These blends are often used to create exercise clothes.

Usually cotton absorbs water but a cotton/spandex blend will trap sweat making you feel hotter.

Sports bras features

Straps

Racerback
Racerback straps keep the breasts closer to the body which helps support the breasts. Racerback straps work well for medium- to high-impact activities. They are usually not adjustable so the proper fit is important.
Crisscross
Crisscross straps that adjust usually provide good support.
Wide straps
Wide straps help decrease the shoulder grooves that occur with large breasts when thin straps are used. They also disperse the weight of the breasts and offer greater comfort than narrow straps.
When purchasing a bra, pull on the straps to ensure the bra will support your breasts. If the straps stretch too much the bra is probably not for you.
Adjustable straps will allow for a better fit than those bras without adjustable straps.

Band

The band should be snug but not too tight. Generally, you should be able to fit two fingers between your body and the band. The band should not be too loose, it will not offer enough support to the breasts.

Wide bands tend to be more supportive than narrow bands.

The wider the band the more support it will offer.

Clasps                                                             `

The primary support from the bra comes from the band. An adjustable band will fit better and give more support.

Choose a band that fits on the first hook, as the bra stretches out you will need to tighten the band. Having more hooks available to tighten the bra will prolong its use.

Cups

The cups should cover and support the breast. A sports bra is not supposed to be a shelf bra that lifts and gives cleavage, the sports bra is meant to support and prevent breast injury.

Look for sports bras that come in different cup sizes, they tend to fit better when compared to the small, medium and large choices.

Seams

When trying on the bra make ensure the seams to not cut into your skin. Seamless bras can offer comfort.

Underwire

A sports bra which has underwires will offer support to each breast individually and can help to minimize movement. The underwire should lay flat against your rib cage. The underwire should not be cutting into your breasts. The wires should not be poking or pinching your skin.

Many sports bras combine the above features into a supportive and comfortable style.

Combination bras offer more support than compression or encapsulation alone, making them the best choice for high-impact activities.

sports bra

How to determine bra size

  • #1 Measure your ribcage just under your breasts, this will help determine the band size
  • #2 Measure around the fullest part of the breast then round up to the nearest inch. Be sure the measuring tape is straight.

    Cup size

    #3 Subtract your rib cage measurement from your bust measurement The difference in inches is your suggested cup size.

    A 3 inch difference is an AA cup

    A 4 inch difference is an A cup

    A 5 inch difference is a B cup

    A 6 inch difference is a C cup

    A 7 inch difference is a D cup

    A 8 inch difference is an DD cup

    A 9 inch difference is an E cup

    A 10 inch difference is an F cup

     Checking the fit of the sports bra

    Lift your arms when trying on the bra to ensure your breasts do not pop out of the bottom of the bra. The band should not rise up when lifting your arms.

    There should be no spillage.

    There should be no restriction in arm movement.

    Try jumping or running in place.

    How to Make Your Sports Bra Last

Wash in cold water and avoid bleaching the bra.

Hand washing is better than a washing machine.

Lingerie bags can help preserve the bra as well.

Do not place the bra in the dryer, it should be dried flat.

Avoid the dryer which can cause weakening of the fibers.

Most bras need to be replaced within 9 months.

What features do you look for in a sports bra?

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About Sharon T McLaughlin MD FACS 233 Articles
I am a physician who is interested in providing health information and health tips so that we may live healthy lives.

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