The Complete Sports Bra Guide: All you need to know
Know your Sports Bra
1. Know your Sports Bra
What is a sports bra and why do you need it?
Sports bras are designed to support your bust while carrying out any physical activity. Your bust tends to move to and fro, side to side and a sports bra makes sure that your breasts are nicely cradled and stay in one place.
From your 5K runs to Zumba sessions to Yoga, sports bras are a must, irrespective of your bust size. Small breasts or large, sports bras are crucial to save you from post-workout pain and discomfort to your breasts. Any possibility of sagging or chest pain is reduced to a great extent, thanks to sports bras.
Minimum breast movement without a fuss. In short, sports bras are gravity-defying, which is quite impressive.
Why wear a sports bra?
Sports bras are undervalued among all bras. We’ll tell you why.
When you finally decide to get that gym subscription or decide to go running, where do you usually put your money in? Running shoes with specialized soles? Appealing leggings that give out an athletic vibe? While those sound like a sound investment, do you give the care and love your ‘girls’ deserve?
Investing in a sports bra goes a long way to ensuring intense bouts of activity without any unwanted side-effects. These side effects may range from post-workout breast discomfort, pain in the back and shoulder. Your breast tissues are not muscles that can be flexed or bear stress. Excessive stress to your breast tissues is irreversible that can even lead to damage via permanent sagging.
Features to look for in a sports bra
It’s pretty clear as the name implies, a sports bra is meant for physical activities, be it a low-level activity such as yoga or physically demanding such as running. If you’re really obsessed about getting into shape, you’d be smart enough to invest in a good sports bra.
Superior support: Irrespective of your cup size, any physical activity would make your breasts jiggle in unpredictable ways and that’s no joke. Usually, when you think of the term ‘physical activity’, high-intensity sports come to your mind. However walking, yoga and pilates count as physical activities too. Because, irrespective of the effort you put, unregulated movement in your breasts are bound to happen. This leads to severe health implications. Sports bra eliminates bouncing and sagging of your bust over long hours of physical activity.
Sweat absorption: Normal bras are not designed to absorb the sweat resulting from a workout. The moisture gets soaked into the fabric and its accumulation might lead to discomfort. Sports bra, on the other hand, is made of moisture-wicking fabric, absorbing sweat and releasing it out quickly just so you don’t get hot and sweaty. Adding to that, the fabric material is a cotton blend which is why they help you maintain even body temperature without giving you a hard time.
Unparalleled comfort: What’s the worst that could happen when you exercise in an everyday bra? We’ll tell you what’ll happen. If you workout with or without any other bra, you’re likely to experience soreness and irritation in the breasts. Sports bras let your skin breathe and secure your bust by providing all-round support. Investing in a good quality sports bra is as important as investing in a good pair of running shoes.
Ease of exercise: You’re in the middle of an intense workout, and just when you’re beginning to enjoy it, your straps start slipping and hooks become loose. Not cool right?
Enter sports bras.
Bugged by hooks and underwires? You can choose to not have them in a sports bra. No pesky underwires and hooks to adjust but rather solid zippers and wide adjustable straps giving you the comfort of a lifetime. Sports bra cling on to your delicate breasts so you could enjoy your workout sessions, long walks, Zumba sessions without any bother.
Types of sports bra
2. Types of sports bra
Okay, so sports bras are super-functional, you get it. They’re also fashionable and come in different styles. And the good news is, we’ve got the — Functionality and fashion, we got both covered in our catalog.
Based on function:
Compression bras tend to ‘compress’ as in, hold your bust in one place. This bra treats your bust as one single unit, and don’t have any built-in cups. Best suited for low impact to medium impact activities, these bras might not be suitable for D cups. Large busted women need to wear these with caution as they tend to cause an uni-boob. Also, your breast tends to spill out because of the volume. Compression bras are usually wire-free.
Encapsulation bras provide individual cups for each breast helping you pull off high performing activities, like running with minimal breast movement. You can finally accomplish your fitness goals without your twin mountains bouncing too much.
Compression and encapsulation
These bras provide you the combined effect of compression and encapsulation. They have encapsulated cups that hold individual breasts separately and compressors in the form of power mesh and spacer fabrics that contain your bust in one place. So apart from providing individual cups, they squeeze your boob against each other giving you a fuller look. This bra is ideal for all types, especially women with DD+ cup size. And, yes, these bras have underwires offering you support and structure.
Based on impact level/ activity
You can’t wear the same sports bra for yoga, running workouts or cycling. To better suit a sports bra for the physical activity you’re involved in, you need to understand the kind of sport you’re into. Based on the level of activity and support you require, sports bra are categorized into three impact levels. Remember–Higher breast movement, the higher the impact level required.
1. Low Impact
Low impact bras that are worn for activities with minimum bounce and bust movement. These include activities like walking, yoga or pilates. In most cases, low impact bras don’t have individual cups. Some varieties of low impact bras come with removable cups.
2. Medium Impact
Medium impact bras are worn for activities with moderate bounce breast movement. These physical activities aren’t too demanding like cycling, Zumba, brisk walking, hiking, etc.
Medium impact bras may or may not have cups, but compared to low impact bras they provide better hold and support.
3. High impact
High impact bras are worn for activities that prompt maximum breast movement with excessive bounce. These include cross-fit training, running, dancing, kickboxing, all other sports that involve a lot of jumping among many others. These bras provide the highest level of support and keep bust movement to a bare minimum.
Based on construction:
Seamless sports bras are fully fashioned garments knitted with a machine with minimal or no stitching.
Constructed sports bras have Individual parts of a sports bra cut and sewn together.
Based on fabric:
Natural fabric (Cotton)
Think cotton, think comfort. Wearing a cotton sports bra lets you breathe easy and cruise through your workouts like a breeze. So style, check. Comfort, check. However, keep in mind, cotton sports bra may get soggy soon and may lose the flexibility if proper care is not taken.
Synthetic fabric (Polyester, Nylon)
Polyester bras are more resistant to wear and tear. Though these bras might not absorb sweat like cotton bras, they’re flexible and versatile. The flexibility comes from the spandex fibres embedded in the Polyamide sports bras. These bras work well with medium to high impact activities as they are tear-proof and stretch resistant.
Nylon (also Polyamide) is another synthetic fabric. Compared to Polyester bras, Polyamides have more resistance to wear and tear, and for that, they are a bit costly than Polyester bras. They are light on the skin and absorb more water and at the same time drying quicker. And with spandex ingrained in the bra, they offer the best stretch while performing your high impact activities.
Sports Bra fitting guidelines
3. Sports Bra fitting guidelines
8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size sports bra
Now you don’t want to be one among those 8 women, do you?
Fitting of a sports bra is crucial. It would be really awkward if your boobs spill in the middle of a workout. After all, workouts should relieve Sports bras should be the same size as the typical bra you wear every day.
What makes a great sports bra?
Support and compression are two crucial aspects that decide how good you feel in a sports bra. Support from a sports bra comes from three things–
- The straps. Straps shouldn’t be too stretchy. This is to make sure that your sports bra provides you with the best movement control. A relatively stiffer strap will keep the motion of your bust minimal.
- The band. The band surrounding your bust should settle in a way that it should be harder to pull it more than one inch from your chest. Also, watch out for bands that tend to creep up. To check if the band is creeping up, here’s a little test– Lift your hands high up in the air overhead. If the bra band rides (creeps) up, the band size you’re wearing is bigger than required.
- The cup: Just like the straps, try stretching the fabric in the bra cup region (not the bra cup itself). The harder they are to pull, the better they’ll hold your bust. If you’re using a sports bra with cups in which pads are embedded in them, you can skip this check. Always remember that a sports bra is a full coverage bra. It should hold your breast without any spillage.
So, a perfect sports bra would…
Let’s start with the most obvious one– Make sure not to wear a cup size smaller than your usual size. Also when it comes to the band, avoid a larger band than you need. So be mindful while choosing the cup size and the band.
Make sure you don’t have to adjust your sports bra every now and then in the middle of your exercise. If you find yourself adjusting or pulling down the sports bra while you’re working out, you need to check out your fitting.
Different sports bras have different intent. Buy a sports bra based on the level of physical activity you are usually into. If you’re a runner who’s looking to run a marathon, you don’t wear a sports bra that’s meant for yoga. The impact levels of sports bra shouldn’t be ignored and choosing the right one is crucial.
Caring for your sports bra
4. Caring for your sports bra
How to wash a sports bra?
While you huff and puff in your sports bra, putting it through all extremes, here are a wash care pointers:
- Avoid drying your sports bra under direct heat/sunlight: Too much exposure to heat may break down the spandex fibres
- Avoid bleach: Bleach makes your sports bra fabric too coarse and stiff. Too much bleach will hinder support and render the sports bra useless sooner.
- Avoid fabric softener: You’re better off not using a fabric softener as it messes with the elasticity of your sports bra.
Lifespan of a sports bra
Based on the usage, any sports bra should last for at least 6 months. If you regularly use it (2-3 times a week), make sure to replace your sports bra every year. Don’t keep using the same sports bra for more than 15 months.
When should I replace my sports bra?
Signs of a worn-out sports bra include spandex fibres (synthetic fibres with high degrees of elasticity) being visible on the exterior. If the elastic fabrics don’t come back into place after pulled, chances are that you need a new sports bra.
Frequently Asked Questions
5. Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which bra is best for yoga?
Since yoga is not a demanding physical activity and involves low bust movement, a low impact sports bra would be enough.
2. Which bra is best for running?
A high impact sports bra. This will ensure minimal bust movement preventing them from jiggling.
3. Should I wear anything under a sports bra?
Not necessary. In fact, It’s alright even if you only wear a sports bra during any sporting activity.
4. What is the best sports bra for a teenager?
A low impact sports bra should suffice for most of the activities. However, if the activity demands a higher movement, then it’s a matter of personal choice.
5. What sports bra should I wear for gym workout?
A high impact sports bra. A gym workout puts all of your body into motion, along with your bust. To ensure minimal bust movement, a high impact sports bra is a must to save you from post-workout discomfort and pain in your breasts.
6. Does a sports bra come with padding?
Yes, sports bras come with padding. This padding ensures extra support and a uniform look. Padded sports bra comes in especially handy for high-intensity physical activities.
7. Can I wear normal bras for sports activities?
The usual laced, push up bra might be comfy and look great on you. However, the scenario is completely changed when you’re physically active. Normal bra-build is not designed to resist the impact of physical activities. Sports activities generate sweat and unlike a sports bra, normal bras don’t absorb moisture. Apart from that your ordinary bras offer less support and do nothing to minimize the bounce and movement of your bust. If you work out in a normal bra, your breast tissues will be damaged and start sagging. These effects are irreversible and you may suffer from prolonged breast pain and discomfort.
8. How to know which impact level is best for me?
This depends a lot on the type of activity you’re engaged in.
Low Impact: walking, yoga or pilates
Medium Impact: cycling, Zumba, brisk walking, hiking, etc.
High impact: cross-fit training, running, dancing, kickboxing
Also, remember— You can wear a higher impact level sports bra for a particular activity, but never wear a lower impact level sports bra for highly intense activities.
9. How often should I replace my sports bras?
You should consider changing your sports bra every 12-15 months. Cotton sports bras tend to get worn out quicker than nylon ones because cotton is a natural fiber. So in that case, a cotton sports bra needs to be replaced every 9-12 months.
10. What if I don’t wear a sports bra for exercising?
First of all, you need to know that it’s breast tissues and not breast muscle. Unlike a muscle, you can’t grow or flex your breast tissues. Irrespective of your breast size, your breast tissues comprise of Cooper’s ligaments, which get damaged when your bust is not supported while performing any physical activity. The damage can be signified by pain, discomfort, and unnatural sagging, all of which are irreversible. Meaning, once you’ve damaged your Cooper’s ligaments, there’s no turning back. To avoid all those, we recommend you to wear a sports bra.
11. Where can I shop for the best sports bra?
At Shyaway, you can choose a sports bra that suits your workout/running/yoga regimen that is comfortable and as well, complements your style. Still, have trouble what is your right size? You can use this bra size calculator to put your doubts to rest.
12. How do I know my sports bra size?
The size of a sports bra is the same as a normal bra. While purchasing one, check for fit and comfort. To put your doubts to rest, you can use a bra size calculator.
13. Is the size of the sports bra different than normal bra?
No, there is no separate cup size particular to a sports bra. Whatever size you opt for your normal bra, the same goes for a sports bra as well.
Sports Bra Glossary
6. Sports Bra Glossary
Racerback sports bras have a central strap that runs through the middle of your back and splits in a V or a Y shape over your shoulders. These bras don’t have adjustable straps so you better make sure you bet on the right racerback sports bra keeping your bra size in mind.
Crossback bras have straps that cross over one another looking like an ‘X’. These bras have the added benefit of flexibility, providing a balance between support and comfort.
Moisture-wicking is the special ability of synthetic wear (like nylon) to absorb moisture or sweat from your skin and send it out through the pores present in the fabric. This way, sweat never accumulates in one part of a body for a long time.
Spandex is an artificially processed synthetic fabric that is very elastic. It is the spandex that makes a sports bra stretchable. Interestingly, if you play with the letters, you ran rearrange spandex to ‘expands’. So you have it right there.
Compression in a sports bra refers to the manner in which a sports bra presses your bust against your chest to restrict breast movement while performing any physical activity.
Chafing occurs when a certain part of bra fabric repeatedly rubs against your skin. It’s usually the straps rubbing against your shoulders. Chafing causes irritation and soreness on the skin, something that has to be avoided.
When a sports bra is said to have encapsulation, it means it has two separate cups for your individual breasts, getting their individual support. This ensures optimal support during any physical activity.
Moulded bras are made from a single piece of fabric without any seams and padding. Unlike normal bras, the cup volume in a moulded bras is predefined so that it can accommodate your bust when you wear it. It is designed in a way that even when you take them off, the fabric still retains its shape.
Seamless Sports Bras
Seamless sports bra are fully fashioned knitted bras that are often knitted in a single piece garment with minimal or no stitching.
It’s a wire embedded in a bra that’s placed under your bust to hold them in place. It comes in different materials, shapes, and sizes and is encased in a plush casing.
Power mesh is a type of nylon mesh often used in the foundation of garments and lingerie, as a lining fabric. It comprises of Nylon and spandex. Compared to the Nylon, the proportion of spandex is higher giving the sports bra better stretch and recovery than ordinary spandex fabric.