If you are a woman, wearing the right sports bra while you exercise is important for your success. Let’s face it, if you are uncomfortable while you workout, or if your skin is rubbed to the point of becoming tender or chafed, you are less likely to exercise again. Lotioning up after-the-fact just doesn’t cut it. With this in mind, consider this to be Sports Bras 101.
There are two main styles of sports bras:
- Pullover bras which are also known as compression bras
- Separating encapsulation bras
Compression bras do exactly what their name says. They compress the breasts against the body. Encapsulation bras have molded cups. Generally, A and B cup gals prefer the compression style while C or larger cup gals find the encapsulation to be more comfortable.
To find the best for you, it is important that you try on different styles and brands to make sure that the one which looks good on the hanger or is an appealing color, is actually the right fit for your body and your activities. You should consider:
Activity level. You may find that you prefer wearing certain bras for activities that are high-intensity with a lot of jumping movements such as plyometrics or basketball, and other bras for activities with less movement such as walking or lifting weights. This is normal. Some bra manufacturers even mark low, medium, and high-impact on the bra labels or sale tags to help consumers.
Armholes. The armholes must allow for full range of motion without pinching or allowing “spillage” of tissue.
Clasps, closures, and straps. Encapsulation styles usually have adjustable back clasps and shoulder straps to assist in putting on the bra and taking it off. Be sure to properly adjust these so you have maximum support while not being too confined. Shoulder straps should be snug but not restricting, and padding on the straps, even light padding, is sometimes preferred. Women who wear C cup or larger often prefer racerbacks or T-backs for the additional support.
Gore. This is the height of the front of the bra. Larger breasted women usually prefer a bra with a higher gore for the extra support and also to prevent any “spillage” of tissue over the top of it.
Material. Most bras are a blend of cotton and a synthetic fiber that wicks away moisture. Nearly every manufacturer has named their own version, but whatever it is called, it will help prevent chafing and keep you dry.
Also important to note is that sports bras lose their support and elasticity over time. It is recommended to hand wash them, or at least hang dry them after being machine washed. A rule of thumb is that those that are worn weekly and machine washed last about six or eight months, again, depending on your activity level.
Many women choose to wear sports bras during non-sport activities too. You should wear them when you need support that a traditional bra can not provide.
To spend your money wisely, try on several types of bras and choose two or three to buy. Wear them for different activities over a week or two before investing in enough to take you through several workout routines.