The Right Sports Bra For You

A woman wearing a pink bra top and white pants stretching her arm

Which sports bra is the best sports bra for you?

Every active woman, regardless of her breast size, should have a decent sports bra in her fitness wardrobe. Not only do these specially designed bras offer better support and more comfort than a regular bra, they also help minimize movement during your workout. Exercising in the wrong bra can lead to more than discomfort. A number of issues, including tension in the arms and shoulders and restricted breathing, can occur if the band is too tight.

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A woman’s breasts are composed primarily of adipose (fatty) tissue, mammary glands, connective tissue, and the Cooper’s ligament, which keeps the breast firm and prevents sagging. Because the underlying chest muscles do not support breast tissue, exercising in anything other than a well-fitted sports bra can stretch the Cooper’s ligament, leading to greater sagging and even pain during exercise.

Finding the right sports bra for you can be a daunting task when there are hundreds of styles from which to choose!  Believe it or not, just any old sports bra won’t supply the support you need to prevent sagging, stretching or pain related to exercise. One size certainly doesn’t fit all. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re shopping:

Are You Wearing The Wrong Sports Bra?

Aspects of design—straps, cushion and variation—can affect a woman’s physical performance.

Studies show that women running in a cushioned, crossed-back bra experienced greater comfort and less pressure, or tightness, on their shoulders. Breast displacement is also significantly less compared with no straps.

Traditional isn’t terrible. If you’re lying on your back at anytime, like in Pilates or general sit-ups, sports bras with a funky knot or braid in the straps won’t be comfortable. Those are better to save for running or spinning. Instead, go for traditional, vertical straps.

Eye up impact. Do you frequent low-intensity yoga classes, or high-intensity Cross-Fit classes? The intensity will make a difference. In Cross-Fit, you’re moving in so many different directions at such a high intensity that you’re going to want something that covers all grounds.

Thicken your strap. If racer back straps are too tight on you, look into a bra with thicker straps, especially if you have wide shoulders and/or a larger cup size. It’s more comfortable and flattering.

Adjustable Straps. You can loosen them when you do yoga and tighten during high-intensity workouts. Either way, straps are integral to creating a supportive environment for your boobs. With a good sports bra, you can reduce bounce by up to 74%.

Cups! It’s really important that your bra has cup sizing (as opposed to small, medium or large compression style), so there’s support for each breast, just like with an underwire bra. This is important for daily vanity reasons too: pressing the tissue down in a compression bra makes you look wider. To lift the breasts up and get them centered because it gives more torso length and creates a sense of balance.

Extra Support. Many of the best sports bra are like double bras with additional layers and side panels — these are great ways to get extra support for high-intensity exercises. If you’re doing cardio like jogging, step, horseback riding, tennis — where your movements are back and forth and side to side — that’s when you’re really going to stretch and strain the tissue at the root near the breast wall without the proper bra.

Moisture-Wicking Fabric. When you work up a sweat from exercise, you can actually trap moisture under the breast that can cause a rash. Make sure your bra is made from a fabric that doesn’t incubate that moisture.

Test drive your bra. Try one on and jump around, or bend over, in the fitting room. This will give you a better idea of the coverage and support it’ll offer during my workout.

But above all else, always go for a sports bra that’s comfortable. You want to be comfortable in your sports bra, and general clothing, so that you don’t have to think about it and can focus on the workout.