How to choose the right Sports Bra
Written By: SportsShoes
With such a wide range of sports bras available, we really are spoilt for choice. What's key to enjoying your workout and performing at your absolute best, is finding the right bra fit in a style that is suitable for your choice of workout. We're looking for both comfort and support, in your favourite brands and style.
THE BENEFITS OF A SPORTS BRA
So, why is a good sports bra so important? Let's start with some interesting statistics. Research studies have shown that the breasts can move in any direction up to 15cm when exercising. Without a correctly fitting sports bra, this movement can damage the delicate ligaments of the breast causing stretching and as a result, sagging. It can also be painful too! A well-fitting sports bra can reduce this bouncing by up to 80%. Another interesting, and shocking fact is that 80% of women are in fact wearing the wrong bra!
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SPORTS BRAS
A sports bra that doesn't fit well may chafe, not keep you in place or feel restrictive around your rib cage causing you to feel uncomfortable over extended periods. Both function and fit are paramount.
Pictured: The Nike Dri-FIT Swoosh High Support Women's Sports Bra
Our sports bras are categorised in the three following ways;
1. Low Support.
Ideal for low impact exercises such as Yoga, Pilates, Hiking and Weight Lifting. These activities require less movement, and therefore a less supportive sports bra is suitable. The majority of low support bras are what's known as compression bras where the breasts are held close to the chest, without individual cups.
The Higher State Low Support Seam-free Women's Bra Top is a good example and really comfortable for everyday wear. Another favourite of mine is the Nike Indy Low Support Sports Bra for comfort under leisure wear.
2. Medium Support.
Ideal for lighter impact sports such as Cycling, Circuit Training and Gym Workouts. These bras still offer multi directional support but less than that required for high impact exercise and larger chests. These types of bra come in a choice of both compression and encapsulation, where there is additional support for each breast.
3. High Support.
Ideal for high impact exercises such running, HIIT, court and field Sports. These activities cause the greatest range of breast motion, and therefore require the greatest amount of support from an encapsulation bra.
A great example is the Nike Alpha High Support Sports Bra. From a functional point of view, this bra gives you the highest level of support with a compressive feel and minimal bounce for a secure fit feature engineered foam pads for shaping and ventilation for a cool comfortable feel. From an aesthetic point of view, this bra looks great and would be entirely suitable for shirtless training or running on warmer days. One feature to consider is a cross back bra to provide extra support and Shock Absorber offer this style in a number of their bras, with the Ultimate Run Sports Bra being my favourite!
Whilst choice of bra is usually influenced by the type of activity that you're doing, another factor to consider is your breast size. If you have larger breasts, you should always opt for Medium to High support, as your bust will naturally move more and therefore need extra hold.
It's recommended that you always buy the same size as your normal bra, or at least use this as a starting point. You will find that some sports bras are sold as XSmall, Small, Medium, Large, XLarge, XXLarge and so on, but further advice on how these sizes are comparable to bra size will always be available in the item description. Our Sports Bra Finder Tool will also help guide what size you require based on your back size.
Pictured: Under Armour Infinity Power Sports Bra
HOW SHOULD A SPORTS BRA FIT?
Ensuring the perfect fit is essential for both comfort and effectiveness. A sports bra is measured from the three following points. The underband – The underband will be firm and level the whole way round the ribcage, with one to two inches of give. If it rides up when you lift your arms above your head, it's too big.
The cups – There should be no cleavage on show, this is a clear sign that the bra is too small. If the fabric is wrinkling or baggy, it is likely too big. Each breast should be fully contained by each cup in an encapsulation bra and both breasts entirely in a compression bra, including the area next to the armpit.
The shoulder straps – It's important that you should be able to fit two fingers between the strap and the skin, with very little give. The straps shouldn't dig in and leave marks in your shoulders, or pinch the skin.
We have established that the choice of bra is mainly influenced by bust size and type of activity, but there are other considerations to bear in mind such as brand, material, colour and design. You will find that most sports bras are made of breathable fabrics to help you stay cool and comfortable.
I recommend that when choosing and trying on a sports bra, you recreate the movement of the sport or activity that you will be taking part in. Are you jogging on the spot in your bedroom right now? Or playing a few tennis shots across the net? The image that this recommendation creates always makes me giggle!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR SPORTS BRA?
It's suggested that you change your sports bras regularly. I predict now that all ladies reading this article have a favourite sports bra for all the wrong reasons. The chances are that your bra has reached maximum comfort and minimum effectiveness because it has stretched over time. Prolong the life of your sports bra by washing it by hand and allowing it to air dry.
A comfortable and effective sports bra will make all the difference to your training. Both fit and support are paramount in ensuring that you enjoy your workout and perform at your ultimate best. Feeling and looking great always helps too!
Remember to check out our SportsShoes Bra Finder Tool for more info.
You can view our full range of sports bras here!