Did you know that 80% of women wear the wrong size sports bra? That’s incredible - since a sports bra is probably the most essential piece of fitness equipment for ladies. When doing any kind of high impact activity - like running - moving breasts can have a significant impact on your performance. In fact, research shows that how a sports bra fits changes the way that women run. In this case, choosing the correct sports bra can be the difference between struggling through every workout or setting a new PB.
Step 1: Evaluate the purpose of your sports bra
The very first step in choosing the correct sports bra, is deciding what it will be used for. Are you mostly a gym rat, a runner, or do you stick to mat exercises? The impact level of your activity is a key step in choosing a sports bra that will serve you well throughout your training.
Low Impact = walking, yoga, strength training
Medium Impact = hiking or road cycling
High Impact = running or mountain biking
Step 2: Get to grips with sports bra anatomy
Band: The band acts as the main source of support. It should fit nice and snugly around the ribcage - but not so tight that it restricts breathing. Wide bands offer more support than narrow bands.
Fit tip: You should be able to fit two fingers between the band and your body - but no more than that.
Shoulder Straps: These should feel secure with minimal stretch, and should never slip off or dig into your skin when running. Wide straps tend to be more comfortable, and disperse weight better than narrow straps.
Fit tip: You should fit two fingers between your shoulders and the shoulder straps - but no more than that.
Adjustable Straps: These can offer you a more customisable fit, and are often found on sports bras.
Back Closure: Most sports bras get pulled over your head. However, there are some that offer additional customisation by means of adjustable hooks.
Fit Tip: Use the middle hook - so that if you're bra stretches you can still tighten it to the first hook, or adjust with weight gain/loss.
Underwire: The purpose of the underwire is support each breast individually to help minimise movement.
Fit Tip: The underwire should lie flat against the rib cage without pinching the skin.
Wicking Fabrics: These are special fabrics designed to keep moisture away and keep you comfortable. Usually, a more supportive sports bra will be less effective at keeping you dry since it’s usually made of sturdier fabric.
Choose thicker straps for more support, however, thinner straps tend to be easier to conceal. Be sure to pay special attention to fitting your sports bra correctly if the straps aren’t adjustable - like racerback sports bras.
Step 3: Find Your Fit
This guide is designed to help you find your ideal sports bra. However, since every body is different, you may need to make a few adjustments along the way.
Measure your underbust: Measure around your rib cage, just underneath your breasts. The tape measure should fit snugly, without interfering with your breathing. Round any number to the nearest centimeter.
Measure your overbust: Measure around the fullest part of your bust, without letting the tape cut into your bust. The tape measure should stay straight across your back.
If you find yourself between sizes, round up a level.
Step 4: Checklist
If you answer yes to all the below, you have chosen a well-fitted sports bra. Congrats!
Step 5: When to purchase a new sports bra?
As a rule, you should purchase three sports bras for every pair of running shoes (30-40 washes).
Here are a few tips to make your sports bras last longer:
- Purchase more than one so that you can rotate sports bras and not wear the same one every day.
- Hand Wash your sports bra or place in a lingerie bag in the washing machine for added protection.
- Do not tumble dry your sports bras. The heat will destroy the fabric.
- Always air dry after washing.
- Use alcohol-free detergent when washing.