According to the University of Portsmouth's Breast Health Research Group, poorly-fitted sports bras aren't just uncomfortable. They can lead to serious health problems, such as muscle fatigue or mastalgia, better known as breast pain. Scary, right? To give your breasts the support they need, consider a professional bra fitting. If you're bra shopping on your own, here's how to find the best possible fit.
Try on a few different styles.
If you have a smaller cup size or usually do low-impact workouts, try a compression bra. (This is the typical shelf-style sports bra.) If you have larger breasts, you may prefer the extra support of an encapsulation bra, which has a separate cup for each breast. For high-impact workouts, no matter your breast size, look for a bra that combines features of both styles.
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Do a mini workout in the fitting room.
You might feel silly, but it's important to see how each bra fits when your body is in motion. Try jogging in place, or jumping around a little. Do your breasts feel secure? Lift your arms and reach for the ceiling. Does the bra stay in place? It should. If the band around the bottom moves up, you may need a smaller size.
Choose a sports bra with an adjustable closure.
Sports bras tend to stretch a bit over time as you wear them and wash them. If you find a bra that fits on the loosest hook when you buy it, you can tighten it up as it ages, and get more use out of it.
Make sure your sports bra is snug, but not too snug.
When you try on a sports bra, make sure you can get it on and off easily. If the bra is too tight, you may find yourself stuck in it when you're hot and sweaty after exercising. A too-tight bra could also constrict your lungs, and make it harder to catch your breath during a workout. A sports bra should be form-fitting, but not uncomfortable.
Check for parts that may chafe or dig into your skin.
If the seams, straps, or hooks on your sports bra cause discomfort while you're standing still, they'll probably rub or hurt more when you're moving.
Finding a sports bra that fits your body perfectly takes time, but it’s worth it. A good sports bra can make workouts more enjoyable, and may even improve your performance. To keep your bras in good condition as long as possible, wash them by hand, and never put them in the dryer. Yes, it's a bit more work than tossing them in with the rest of the laundry, but your breasts will appreciate the effort.