Why you need a sports bra
You wouldn’t do an exercise class or go for a run in your day shoes would you? A good sports bra is as essential piece of kit as trainers.
Your breasts need special support during exercise because they are made of soft tissue and not muscle - alas they are not naturally designed to cope with extreme movement. It’s not just a question of minimising breast discomfort but preventing sag too.
Your breasts can bounce up and down up to 14cms if unsupported during exercise and once they stretch from the resulting stress they can’t be restored naturally. There’s no going back.
Size doesn’t matter
And this applies to small breasts too – 34As have been shown to bounce up to around 4cms which can also lead to breast sag. The good news is the right sports bra can reduce bounce by up to 80 per cent - that's twice as much as a normal bra.
How do you know you’ve got a fit for purpose and great fitting sports bra?
Once you've got your bra on, stand in front of the mirror and move your arms around, your bra shouldn’t move around or lift, if it does try a smaller underband size.
Next, try jogging and jumping on the spot, your breasts should be fully encased with no movement, if your breasts are spilling out of the neckline or underarm try a bigger cup size and if your breasts move in different ways try a bra with extra support.
Sports bras are designed to fit snugly and to provide firm support so tend to feel tighter than a normal bra. But they shouldn’t feel restrictive or rub.
What are common mistakes when buying a sports bra?
A common mistake is buying a sport style crop top that is not supportive enough. They are great layering pieces but it is super important to wear a sports bra that is appropriate for the level of impact as breast tissues may become damaged due to wearing the wrong style of sports bra.
How often should you replace a sports bra?
With all lingerie, with regular wear most pieces should be replaced after six months or so. The elastane and fabric will start to deteriorate with regular washing and wear. It is important to keep checking you are wearing the correct size and may need to freshen up your collection if your size changes, especially if your weight changes.
What is the meaning of encapsulation?
A separate cup encapsulates each breast, looking more like a normal bra but with more coverage, providing both shape and support.
Encapsulation sports bras reduce ‘bounce’ without ‘strapping’ the breasts down (the compression uniboob effect).
Unlike compression bras, they limit crossover movement and provide superior support.
What to look for in a sports bra?
The good news is the right sports bra can reduce bounce by up to 80 per cent – that's twice as much as a normal bra.
While there are different bras for activities with different intensity levels, known as ‘impact levels’, there are common qualities to look for...
A wider back than a normal bra and also fuller breast coverage.
They are likely to have a firm underband and may have underwiring.
They also tend to have adjustable, wide and cushioned straps for comfort and support and are made from breathable fabrics that draw perspiration away from your body and are quick drying to keep your skin cool.
Racer backs are a good option as the straps anchor the bra closer to the body, providing more support (some styles have convertible racer straps).
What are the most common sports bra issues? What signs should you look for that you’re not wearing the right kind of bra for your activity?
As with fitting a normal bra, sports bras should fit the wearer correctly. Most of the support should come from the ribcage and only a small amount of support coming from the straps. It should be comfortable to wear and allow you to move easily, while firmly supporting your bust. Some styles often contain a flexi wire, which offers great support and shape but needs to fit you correctly.
What extra features should you look for in a sports bra?
Look out for the special features on products, some offer breathable fabrics and moisture wicking to help keep your skin cool. Cushioned adjustable straps are good for comfort and fit. A great option for a first sports bras is a multifunctional style that can be worn for a variety of sports. Figleaves offers a shop by impact level that is great for beginners.
What is the meaning of Compression?
The early sports bras used compression. Most are crop top styles and are generally worn by smaller cup sizes and for low and medium impact activity.
Compression presses the breasts against the body and holds (to some degree) the breasts in place. It limits in and out breast movement but doesn’t tackle the more complicated breast movement that accompanies many forms of exercise, hence being used for lower impact activity.
As there aren’t separate cups, your breasts are flattened against your chest (the uniboob effect).
Is it safe to wear an underwired bra while exercising?
It is safe to wear underwires for exercising as long as it’s a sports bra and not everyday bra and many sports styles now contain underwires. Wires that are used in sports bras are more flexible than in normal bras, and their casings are designed not to rub through perspiration and repetitive movements.