If you’re on the bra-wearing bandwagon, you probably already know how difficult it is to find the right fit, comfort level, support and protection you need. Unfortunately, selecting a sports bra isn’t much easier. In fact, there are just as many options to choose from, if not more, compared to regular bras. The fitness market is saturated with them—and for good reason. A good sports bra ensures a good workout. It holds your ladies in securely while you get your sweat on.
When it comes to choosing the right one for you, the most important consideration above all—color, brand, style—is the fit, according to Orit Hashay, CEO of Brayola.com. “All the bouncing your breasts experience during a workout puts wear and tear on your Cooper’s ligaments, a mesh of connective tissue that gives structure to breasts, and can cause premature sagging,” she explains.
To help you navigate the unchartered waters of choosing the right sports bra, we asked Hashay and other experts for their best tips.
Know your cup size
When deciding on the style of your sports bra, Hashay recommends first determining the size of your chest. “Over time, breast shape and size can change from aging, weight loss or gain and pregnancy, so, if you have not been sized in years, you may be wearing the wrong size bra,” she says. “If you’re smaller-chested, a compression bra, which holds your breasts closer to the chest wall to reduce bouncing, will do the trick.” For bustier women, she recommends encapsulated bra styles that cup each breast individually to offer ultimate support.
As they say, comfort is key. This is especially important when choosing your sports bra. “Don’t sacrifice support for comfort or comfort for support—you should feel both,” says Alicia Miller, senior product manager for Chantelle. “If the bra doesn’t feel great now, it isn’t going to feel any better on mile 10 of that triathlon your are training for!”
Match your workout style
Even though your sports bra is worn underneath your athletic attire, it’s smart to keep the style consistent throughout your outfit. “Low-impact workouts like barre or yoga may not require a style that offers the sturdy support you get from your encapsulated sports bra, as these low-impact workouts give you leeway to wear bras with thinner straps and bands,” says Hashay. On the other hand, intense, high-impact workouts can put a lot of strain on your breast tissue. If you’re going for a jog or participating in a high-movement exercise routine, she recommends a supportive bra that evenly distributes weight through encapsulation and wide straps.
Make sure the straps are comfortable
If bra straps are your enemy, you need a different bra. While many women experience this discomfort, it’s not normal, according to Hashay. “Your sports bra straps should not be digging into your shoulders or providing the bulk of your support—the band holds this responsibility most,” she says. The best type of straps for sports bras are ones that you can adjust. “Racerbacks help hold your chest closer to your body while wide straps evenly distribute the weight.”
Do a breath test
Can you take a deep breath in and out wearing your sports bra? This is key, according to Rubina Tahir, D.C., chiropractor and co-founder of The Positivity Charge. “As a chiropractor, I often educate people on the importance of breathing during exercise—you want to be able to regulate your body and a tight-fitting sports bra will hinder this,” she says. If you can’t breathe in your sports bra, you can’t complete your workout to the fullest. Time for a new one!