Health & Fitness

Sports bras: 5 things you should know

Common sports bra misconceptions and why you're probably not wearing the right size.

How to choose the right sports bra

Not only is it all kinds of annoying to have your lady lumps flapping all over the place when you’re trying to work out, excessive breast movement during exercise can also affect performance.

This is because women tend to brace their trunk and limit arm movement in a subconscious attempt to limit the movement. And in the most unsurprising news ever, in order for a sports bra to do its job effectively, it must fit you correctly.

But we bet you don’t spend as much time finding a gym bra that fits perfectly as you do your regular ones, do you?

Don't just buy one that looks pretty

“Not all sports bras will fit all the different breast shapes of women,” explains Dr Deirdre McGhee, part of Breast Research Australia (BRA), a sports physiotherapist and a Senior Health Sciences Lecturer at the University of Wollongong.

“You have to try on a sports bra and make sure it fits your breast shape. Just because it is a high-ranking brand or claims to limit a high percentage of breast movement doesn't mean that it will work for you.”

One is not enough

“Depending on your age, bra size and level of physical activity, you may need to wear two bras (a sports bra and crop top) to achieve sufficient breast support,” McGhee says.

Also, over-washing and wearing the same bra too much will stretch the material and leave it less effective at holding you in. Always hand-wash bras where possible – it will make them last longer.

They’re not just for sports

“Believe it or not, it’s not just during sports that you should be wearing your sports bra. If the sports bra is comfortable to wear, it can be used as an all day, every day bra, as it provides a high level of support," McGhee explains.

“This is particularly useful for women with larger breasts, as bras that provide a high level of breast support can assist them achieve and maintain good posture, which can help prevent and treat musculoskeletal problems such as neck and back pain, which can occur secondary to poor posture and large breasts.”

Five things to keep in mind:

1) Level of support required: Do you need a sports bra, a crop top or both? This will depend on age, bra size and the type of activity you'll doing.

2) Design Features:Think about the cup, band, material, straps and underwire even before you try it on.

3) Underwire or soft cup: If a bra has underwire, it MUST fit the shape of your breasts correctly. Under-wire fit was a very common error found in the bra fit assessments. It it's not possible to find an underwire bra that fits correctly, don't worry, a non-underwire (soft-cup) bra can provide still provide sufficient breast support.

4) Correct bra fit: Each and every bra must be tried on to determine if they fit correctly. If a bra does not fit correctly, it does not matter how much support it claims to provide it won't be effective. Your breasts can change their size with weight gain, your menstrual cycle and aging. Even the same bra style in a different colour must be tried on. Bras are dyed after they are made and the dying process can change the material and consequently the size.

5) Assess level of comfort and support: If a bra is uncomfortable and causing red marks on your skin in the change room then it is not worth buying. Women deserve to be comfortable and should demand it of their sport bras. In the change room, perform the type of activity to plan to do.