Guide to Buying Sports Bras

Now that we’ve clearly marked how important it is to own a properly fitting sports bra, here are some basic guidelines on how to choose the perfect one. Keep on reading!

Guide to Buying Sports Bras

Sports bra support level

As there are different levels of activity that women get engaged in, there are also different levels of bra support to match these. Therefore, it’s pretty clear why there are three different support levels: low, medium and high.

For instance, low support bras can be used for walking, yoga and strength training; medium support bras can be used for skiing, hiking and cycling, and high support bras are to be used for running, aerobics and other high impact activity sports.

Yoga Sports Bras

For the ladies that participate in many activities, it might be a good idea to fill their closets with different support level sports bras to make sure they can focus on the workout instead of worrying about the apparel.

Sports bra construction

There isn’t just one unique form of a sports bra on the market, but there are three types of sports bra construction – encapsulation bra, compression bra and a mixture of these two (compression/encapsulation bra).

They differ in the way they are constructed. So, encapsulation bras are named that way because they have individual cups for each breast. These cups surround both breasts separately. Usually, encapsulation sports bras are recommended for low-impact sports, as there is no compression with them. Additionally, the shape of the breasts remains more natural with the encapsulation sports bra.

Compression bras, as their title clearly states, compress the breasts against the chest wall, in order to limit and restrict movement. Usually, these bras don’t have cups and they are recommended to those who engage in low and medium-impact activities.

Lastly, there are compression/encapsulation sports bras that represent a combination of the previously described two types. These bras are the best choice for those who participate in high-impact sports, as they offer great support and are extremely comfortable for the breasts.

Sports Bra Features

Let’s not get fooled by the simplistic look of sports bras, as they have a number of features, such as: shoulder straps, the band, underwire, a back closure, wicking fabrics and more.

I’ll start from the band, since it is, in fact, the primary source of support. Hence, it could be defined as the foundation of a sports bra. The band needs to be tight to the rib cage, but never too tight. The most common way to see if the band is not too tight (or too loose) is to fit two fingers between the body and the band. There shouldn’t be space for anything more than that. Some bands are wider than others, and, usually, the wider ones tend to be more supportive.

Shoulder straps should provide a feeling of security and comfort. They should provide minimal stretch, as they need to limit the movement and the “bouncing” of the breasts. For the exact measures, the same two-finger rule applies here, too. It’s important to pay attention to the fact that straps should never slip off or dig into shoulders during the activity. There are also adjustable straps on some bra models, usually the encapsulated ones.

Moving on to the back closure, while the vast majority of sports bras are designed to be pulled over head, there are some that have a back closure with hooks. This type of bra is easier to handle while changing or undressing. In addition, it allows to further adjust the fit. My tip here would be to always use the furthest hook when trying on a new sports bra. That way, even when the bra gets all stretched out after some time, it’s still possible to use it with the closer hook.

The fabric plays an important role, too. It needs to move moisture and sweat away from your skin, in order to keep the comfort levels high during long activities.

Finally, some sports bras contain the underwire, which is beneficial as it is supposed to provide support to both breasts individually, and help minimize the movement. The underwire should lay flat against the rib cage, below the breast tissue, and should never poke or pinch the skin.

Sports Bra Strap Type

When it comes to the bra straps type, there are 3 types: criss-cross, tank top and racerback.

Criss-cross straps are usually adjustable, they hide nicely underneath a sporty tank top and provide good support in general. Tank top strap style is similar to a regular bra and the straps are usually adjustable, so they can be easily adjusted for the perfect fit. Lastly, there are racerback bras that come together between the shoulder blades creating a Y-shape. The last ones can’t be adjusted, so you should take that into consideration, too.

Racerback Sports Bras

One more tip when it comes to straps – it’s important to pay attention to how wide they are, as wider ones tend to provide more support.

Find Your Sports Bra Size

Here’s the 3-step guide to finding your sports bra size:

  1. Rib cage measurement – It’s important to get the precise measurements of the rib cage. The tape measure should be comfortable and not too tight.
  2. Bust size – In order to measure the bust size, it’s necessary to measure around the fullest part of the breast.
  3. Cup size – In order to calculate the precise cup size, it’s necessary to subtract the rib cage measurement from the bust measurement and the difference in inches should be taken as the suggested cup size.

If the numbers turn out to be between sizes, just round up.

Perfecting Sports Bra Fit

The final step to perfecting the sports bra fit is testing out the following factors:

  1. Chafing – There should be no chafing under any circumstances.
  2. Straps – As mentioned earlier, these shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.
  3. Band – There’s a trick on testing the band fit, too. As a matter of fact, if the bra raises while the hands are raised, the chances are it’s too big.
  4. Cup – The breasts need to be centered and fully contained in the cups. To make sure the cups fit, there shouldn’t be any wrinkles or puckers in the fabric. In addition, the breast tissue shouldn’t be pressed outside of the bra. Those are the main signs that the cup size should be altered.
  5. Support – Last but not least is the overall support feeling. This can be tested by jumping or running in place. If the breasts feel secure and supported during these activities, the chances are you’ve found the perfect sports bra fit!

Gallery

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