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4 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Sports Bra

If you ask a group of busy, multitasking women to share their biggest barriers to exercise, you’ll probably hear a list of the usual suspects including lack of time, energy, and motivation. But there’s also another common, less talked about, sometimes embarrassing stumbling block—exercise-induced breast discomfort.

Why is choosing a suitable sports bra important?

According to one survey, 56% of respondents shared they’ve experienced exercise-related breast pain. Since breasts lack both bone and muscle structure, inadequate support can damage tissue and lead to skin laxity. Sadly, women living with a breast cancer diagnosis also struggle with the discomfort of ill-fitting bras that impede their ability to enjoy the healing benefits of exercise.

Thankfully, sports bra design and techniques for determining proper fit have come a long way since the days of corset-like contraptions. Many companies now go the extra mile to provide innovative styles and high-tech fabrics to ensure both function and comfort. Even if breast discomfort has not yet impacted your exercise experience, these tips can help you find the perfect sports bra for your needs and body type. 

What things should you consider while buying a sports bra?

Fabric:

Sweating is an inevitable result of a heart-pumping cardio workout. Fabrics that perform well when damp can help you avoid hot, clammy conditions that lead to painful chafing and abrasion injuries.

Tip: Many sports bras come with tags describing fabric features. Look for words like light-weight, breathable, and moisture-wicking to help ensure a functional fabric that performs well when your body temperature rises.

Fit:

Surprisingly, one study found that 75% of participants reported at least one issue related to bra fit. Cup sizes that are too small, tight bands around the rib cage, and shoulder straps that dig into the skin can make it feel like you’re wearing a medieval corset during your cardio session.

Tip: Don’t go into the fitting room alone! Many major department stores and lingerie retailers have highly trained, empathetic sales associates ready to size you up for the perfect fit and style.

Function:

Minimizing breast motion is the key to reducing discomfort and the risk of tissue damage. Compression style bras flatten and distribute breast tissue evenly across the chest wall while encapsulation style bras, with cups that support each breast individually, may provide greater stability. The choice is often a matter of individual preference.

Tip: Breast cancer survivors may wear a sports bra 24/7 while healing from reconstructive surgery. There are challenges many women face when taking their bra on and off. Getting a sports bra over your head can be too painful. Finding one with a simple hook and eye front closure may be a better choice.

Fashion:

Don’t discount the boost your body image can get from wearing a fashion forward sports bra to the gym. Feeling good about the way you look can elevate your self-confidence and inspire more consistency with your workouts.  

Tip: Though compression style bras win in the comfort category, encapsulation styles accentuate the natural curves of the female body. And while shoulder strap fit is important, they also make a fun fashion statement underneath a colorful tank top.

The benefits of regular exercise are just too important for women to feel held back by uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing breast pain or a sports bra that doesn’t do its job. Knowing what to look for the next time you go shopping and confidently asking for help in the fitting room can ensure you find a sports bra that performs as well as you do at the gym.

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