Wearing a sports bra is essential for every woman who is active. Because breasts can move as much as 4 inches up and down as you run, depending on your size, you need all the support you can get to stay comfortable, and prevent wear and tear to the delicate skin near your chest.
Here are some of the key findings from this research and more that will help you choose the right sports bra for you.
What To Do Before You Buy a Sports Bra
How do you know that the sports bra you pulled off the rack will hold up your, er, rack? “Support comes from three points on a sports bra: the straps, the cups, and the band, including the side panels,” says Susan Sokolowski, senior innovation manager for Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. Here’s how to dressing-room test all three.
Hold the top of one strap and the center of the corresponding cup, then pull. Whether they’re adjustable or not, the less stretchy the front straps, the more motion control they’ll provide.
Repeat a similar stretch test by tugging the top and bottom of each cup; the less give, the more motion control. Then put on the bra. Whether it’s a compression or an encapsulation style, the cup should hold the whole breast — no spillage. If it doesn’t, choose the next larger cup size.
Band and Side Panels
Slide a finger under the band between your breasts; you should not be able to pull it more than an inch from your chest. (For an adjustable band style, set the clasp on the first eyelet; if you have to use the last eyelet to get a snug fit, you’re better off with a smaller band.) Next, reach your arms overhead; if the band creeps up, it’s too big. In both cases, pick a smaller size.
There should be no gap – this indicates you might need to go up a size. The lower edge of your bra between the cups should sit on your breast bone, but not on your breast tissue.
The material should not irritate or chafe your skin. It’s often wet fabric that creates friction on the skin, so choose materials that wick sweat away from your body, such as the 2XU Power X fabric.
Crop tops should be made of strong elastic material that can compress your breasts firmly against your chest.
A Pre-Purchase Test
While You’re in The Shop Fitting Room, Try This Simple Test From Joanne Scurr:
Place your feet together and squat down with your hands on the floor, then jump up while spreading your arms and legs out (like a star jump). Sounds crazy, but this causes the same breast movement you experience during running – but you can do it in a shop fitting room! Finally, check that the bands stays put when you stretch your arms above your head and wave them side-to-side.
Care For Your Bra (And Your Breasts)
- For best results, wash your sports bra in cold water in a bra bag on the delicate cycle. Use a mild detergent with no fabric softener and hang to dry. Salt from sweat should never be left in the fabric, so wash or at least rinse out your bra or after every use.
- You may need a variety of sports bras to cover different activities you do. Always choose to wear a higher-impact bra for what you might need
- Sports bras should be replaced after 25-50 washes or every 6-12 months because they will lose their ability to support you
- Recheck your bra size and fit every six months or every time you buy a new sports bra – thing may have changed!