Women often spend money on great looking gym clothes or well fitting running shoes but forget that one of the most important items for exercising is a good fitting, supportive sports bra. Just because no one can see it does not mean it is not important.
A bra that doesn’t provide the correct support can cause discomfort, pain and if the ligaments are constantly stretched and pulled can result in permanent injury. It is shown that 3 out of 4 women wear an ill fitting bra. So here are some tips on how to choose the right sports bra so you can concentrate on your fitness routine and getting that gorgeous new body!
What is your Impact Level?
Low impact includes walking, weight training, yoga, Pilates or road cycling. Moderate impact includes activities such as hiking, skiing, skating and High impact includes running, aerobic activities, high energy personal training and rough terrain cycling.
The job of your sports bra is to minimize the amount of movement of your breasts without causing discomfort.
There are two basic types of sports bras, they are:
Compression - This bra basically compresses the breasts close to the chest wall to provide support and prevent movement or bounce. They are generally better for women with small to medium sized breasts. They are not advisable for women with a C cup or over. Usually they are a pullover bra with a scoop back or racer back. Scoop back is generally better for low impact activities while a racer back provides better support for moderate to high impact activities.
Encapsulated - This looks like the type of bra that most of us wear every day only more supportive. These bras do not use compression but have individual cups that surround and support each breast. They generally have fasteners or hooks at the front or back and can have under wire support for larger breasts.
The size of your sports bra may be different to your normal size, don’t be put off or confused by numbers. If possible it is best to get your bra fitted by an expert and it is best to try them on before you buy.
The band around the bottom of the bra should be firm and slightly tighter than a regular bra but should not restrict your breathing. If you raise your arms the band should remain in place and should not ride up. It is best to be on the middle hook to give room to tighten as it stretches with wear.
The shoulder straps should be adjustable with minimal stretch and should not slip off the shoulder or dig in when you move your arms. Spaghetti straps do not provide much support where as wider straps provide much better support, especially for larger breasts.
The cup should be smooth around your breasts. If the fabric is puckered or wrinkled it may indicate that it is too big. Make sure the seams are comfortable and that there is no chafing or digging in if there are under wires. Consider the fabric, cotton can wear and stretch. There are many cotton/synthetic fabrics that breathe and allow for the wicking of moisture away from the skin.
Make sure you try on a few different bras as it takes time to get the right bra for you. It must be comfortable, try lifting your arms and moving around to check that it feels good while you exercise not just when you are standing still.
Care of Your Bra
To extend the life of your sports bra it is better to wash it after each workout either by hand or in a net underwear bag with the hooks fastened on a gentle cycle. Don’t use fabric softeners as they interfere with the wicking material and hang dry don’t use the dryer as it will ruin the elastic. Your bra will stretch over time and lose its support. Generally you will need to replace your bra every six to twelve months. If it has lost its elasticity throw it away!