Sports bras have become a staple of our modern sporting lives. Those of us that exercise regularly know the importance of a sports bra in keeping the girls in check as we jump around getting all hot and sweaty. But have you every stopped to think about the things your sports bra should do.
Modern sports bra design is surprisingly complicated. What outwardly appears to be a simple piece of clothing has a lot of research and development behind it. Many brands put their sports bras through rigorous testing as part of the design process and are constantly releasing new styles containing the newest design trends.
So, what should your sports bra do? Check out my six points to ensure your sports bra is doing everything it should be during your workout.
Your Sports Bra Should Fit
Sounds obvious right? But you would be surprised how many women wear the incorrect bra size. In fact, up to 80% of women wear the wrong size. Not good!
So, how do you know when you have the right fit? Follow my quick checklist to ensure the perfect fit for you.
- The band should be firm but not too tight. The band should not sit on your breast tissue and no breast tissue should escape. You also don’t want the band to move when you raise your arms.
- The cups should contain all your breast tissue. Spillage = too small! Your breasts should fill the cups. No wrinkles; these are a sign that the cups are too big.
- The straps should be comfortable. Not digging in (too small) or falling off your shoulders (too big).
Tick these boxes and you have found a sports bra that fits. Yay!
Your Sports Bra Should be Tight (but not too tight!)
A sports bra is designed to work harder than your everyday bra. As such is will feel tighter. That said you need to be able to breathe so you need to ensure it isn’t too tight.
Most of the support comes from the band. It is what holds you up! As such it needs to be firm. A good rule of thumb is you should be able to fit two fingers under the band when on. If you can’t it is too tight. More than two and it is too loose.
Same with the straps. Adjust them until they are comfortably tight and try the two-finger trick. Comfortable tightness also helps reduce bra movement and chafing. An added bonus!
Your Sports Bra Should Support You
The primary function of a sports bra is to support you! If it doesn’t it isn’t doing its job. That said there are differing levels of support required depending on the exercise you do.
It is overkill to wear a full structured, high support bra to a yoga class and you don’t want to run a marathon in a strappy crop. Ouch!
You need to match the bras support level, often called impact level, to the activity you are doing. Slow and sedate = low impact. High speed and active = high impact.
Most styles state the impact level so simply match it to your activity. Also, nothing beats a bounce test. Move around and simulate your activity and see if your girls are held in check. If they are great. If not move up an impact level or try another style to get the support you need.
Your Sports Bra Should be Comfortable
Surely if it fits and is supportive it will be comfortable? Not necessarily! The variety of sports bra options available are pretty much endless; racerback, padded, wirefree, front zip, underwired, etc. And not everyone is going to find every option comfortable.
We all have our personal preferences and that is a good start. That said don’t be afraid to try something new in your search for comfort. I used to be an underwired advocate but am now firmly a wirefree convert!
Your Sports Bra Should be Lightweight and Cool
Working out increases your body temperature (if it doesn’t, you’re not working hard enough!) and you may begin to sweat. Apart from making you feel uncomfortable excess sweating can cause your sports bra to rub and chafe. Not good!
The solution? A lightweight, breathable style that wicks the sweat away from your skin keeping you cool, dry and comfortable.
You know you have found an awesome sports bra when you forget you even have it on. And one made from lightweight, technical materials goes a long way to achieving this.
Your Sports Bra Should Feel Good
A simple one to finish with. You know you are onto a winner when you put a sports bra on, and it simply feels good. Of course, it still needs to perform under pressure, but this is a sure sign you are heading in the right direction.
This is the holy sports bra grail for many women. A sports bra that works and feels good. A little bit of research and testing and this will be you. And when you do find a bra that ticks all the boxes fill your bra drawer with it!
Some Final Thoughts
Even after you have found a winner that is not the end of it. You still need to look after your investment. Care for it and it will care for you. Hand wash it regularly. Store it carefully. Check for signs of deterioration. And remember the golden rule; a sports bra should never have a birthday!
I have only scratched the surface here. The world of sports bras is an increasingly complex one and there is so much to learn. Websites such as Sports Bras Direct are full of information to help you in your search for the perfect sports bra. Take the time to educate yourself and your new sports bra will become your favourite workout partner.
Yours in support!