Find out how to get the right fit and support here. By Cheng Jee Yan
Wearing the wrong sports bra can cause injuries and premature sagging. Photo: maridav / 123rf.com
The type of activity
For the best fit, you need to first determine the level of impact that your exercise entails in order to work out which bra you’ll need because different exercises require a different amount of support. Most of them are designed to provide three general levels of support, namely low, medium and high, to be used correspondingly to the level of impact (read: how much you have to move). Low-support bras are best for low-impact activities like walking, yoga/pilates, strength training and rock climbing; medium-support bras are suitable for brisk walking, rollerblading and cycling; high-support bras are designed for high-impact sports like running and aerobics workouts.
The constriction of the bra
There are three main types of constriction in sports bras that help to minise your breasts’ movements.
The one piece compression style bras do not have cups built into the design and are usually worn by pulling them over your head. The structure of it compresses the breasts against the body and secures them (to a certain degree) to limit their movements.
This type is usually more suitable for women with smaller breasts, or for low to moderate impact workouts that require fewer movements e.g. strength training.
This type of sports bra looks more like a normal bra, usually with fasteners on the front or back. They are designed individuals cups that surround each breast and provides shape. Women with larger breasts should go for this type because it offers maximum support; as should those who are engaging in moderate to high impact sport.
3. Compression + encapsulation
This is a combination of the previous two types of bras, giving you the best of both worlds. They are designed to encapsulate each breast individually while also compress the breast tissues against the chest, and offer the most sturdy and complete type of support for women of any breast size. This is the best choice for any sort of high impact activity for example, running.
How to find the right fit
Your sports bra should fit slightly tighter than a regular bra, but still allow you to comfortably take a deep breath.
The band provides the majority of the support in a bra, so make sure that the band fits snuggly below your breasts and is parallel to the ground. The straps should be secure and tight, and make sure to move around while you are trying the bra to see if it causes pain or slips off your shoulders.
Look out for sports bras that come in cup and band sizes rather than just the usual small, medium, or large because they have a more precise fit.
Do this while trying on your sports bra: Raise your hands over your head. If the band moves upwards, you need a smaller band or the straps may need to be adjusted. Also, make sure to take note that the cup fabric should be smooth. Any form of wrinkles indicate that the cup size is too big.
Breathable materials with minimal or covered seams
If the fabric of your bra is not breathable (i.e. pure cotton), you are very likely to trap moisture under the breasts when you work up a sweat while exercising. This is one of the main causes of rashes! Look out for moisture-wicking fabrics as they help pull moisture away from the body to the exterior of the bra where it can evaporate more easily.
Seams on the bra should be kept to a minimum or covered up, because every seam on the sports bra has the potential to rub against your skin and irritate it, causing chafing.
A version of this article first appeared on www.herworldplus.com.