Sports Bras

Sunday, 21 September 2008 | Tags:

Any woman who engages in sports activities knows that a comfortable and effective sports bra is an essential piece of equipment, no matter what you play. We test out some sports bras to find one that provides the best support, motion control and fit during our rigorous cheerleading training.

The Basics

  • The main qualities to look for are comfort, moisture control, breathability and moving comfort. Take into account your activity level, size, style and fabric when considering your choices.

  • The more intense your level of activity, the more support you’ll need. When in doubt, always choose a higher level of support.

  • Try on all sports bras. Sizes vary depending on the style, even within the same brand.

  • Look for sports bras that come in cup and band sizes like regular bras, rather than just small, medium, or large. If you don’t know your chest and cup size, get fitted by an expert.

  • There are two main styles:

    • Encapsulating bras are similar to regular bras but will have more coverage and wider straps for support. These are best for larger-chested women (C-DD cup) because they support each breast individually. These bras usually include underwire.

    • Compression bras rely more on stretch, or compression, to provide support and prevent motion. They usually pull on over the head and are best for smaller-chested women (A-B cup), but can give you that “mono-breast” look.

  • The fit should be snug: you should still be able to breathe comfortably and deeply, but if you pull the straps and bottom of the bra, it shouldn’t stretch very much.

  • Look for a wide elasticized band around the rib area to help eliminate slipping.

  • To fit your new sports bra, pick one that is comfortable on the first (loosest) hook. As it loses elasticity over time, you will have room to tighten it.

  • Look for wide shoulder straps that aren’t very elastic so that they help reduce bounce.

  • Look for armholes cut wide and deep enough for your range of motion, and be sure to test whether they chafe the front of your shoulder or your armpit.

  • Look for flat-locked or seamless stitching, soft, ribbon, or hidden tags,

  • There are many different fabrics to choose from:

    • Cotton provides sheer softness and comfort but no breathability or moisture control and will stay wet and uncomfortable during a workout.

    • If you sweat a lot and need to keep cool, choose a high performance fabric like Coolmax, Lycra, Supplex, or Intera to minimize chafing and wick away sweat.

    • Cotton-synthetic blends are common (polypropylene, acrylic/nylon, polyester) and provide comfort, warmth, stretch, breathability and wicking.

Other Considerations

  • Many sports bras are can be worn alone as a top or outerwear. It’s up to you whether you’re comfortable enough to do so, but white should always be worn under a shirt due to its tendency to become transparent when wet (sweaty).

  • Strap styles include traditional (u-shape), t-back (in which the two straps become one), and the racer-back. The racer-back is most versatile for all body types because it gives good range of arm movement, but it can be difficult to get on and off.

Be Aware

  • Pay attention to make sure your bra doesn’t poke, rub, slip, jiggle, constrict your breathing, or bulge. Do some of your sporting moments in the store to test each bra out.

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