For women athletes, finding the right sports bra is like finding a great relationship. A poor-fitting bra can make your life worse instead of better! No matter what your size, always wear a sports bra to avoid back and neck strain, chafing, and damage to the breast ligaments. Here's a quick checklist of how to buy a sports bra that fits.
Know your bra size
This may sound obvious, but over 70-80% of women don't choose the right size. Be sure to get measured. For tips on how to measure your bra size, see column at right.
Determine your level of impact
Choose a bra that provides enough support for your level of activity or impact. At EMS, we indicate the best impact level for each of our sports bras:
- Low Impact Bras: Yoga, climbing, paddling
- Medium Impact Bras: Walking, road biking, Nordic skiing
- High Impact Bras: Running, mountain biking, Alpine skiing
Consider the bra structure
Most sports bras compress the breasts tight against the chest, but fuller-breasted women may find that a bra with separate cups (encapsulation) provides more support.
Read the bra fabric content
Today's sports bras offer many fabric options with different benefits. High-performance polyester (such as CoolMax®) delivers powerful moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and breathability. A percentage of cotton adds comfort. Stretchy Lycra® spandex offers incredible fit, support, and shape retention.
Pump up the support if you're well-endowed
More support will come from bra features like extra lining, reinforced side panels, racer-back design, and wide shoulder straps with stabilizers and spacer fabric.
To close or not to close?
With traditional hook closures, you can better customize the fit. If you're wearing a pack, however, look for hooks on the front versus the back. Some women prefer a pullover style with no hooks. If you're large-breasted, the hook closure tends to be easier to take on and off.
Examine the bras features
Beyond impact level, your sport may influence which bra features to choose. For example, our female climbers look for strap positionings that allow full range of arm movement. Our trail-runners like a mesh liner and single-layer back that releases excess heat.
Make sure the bra fits
Sports bras should be snug enough to fit one finger underneath the front and back, and two fingers under each strap. The band shouldn't ride up too high, and straps shouldn't dig in. You shouldn't bulge out of the cups nor find excess fabric. Cups need to keep breasts centered and not pushed in or up.
Care for your bra
Follow wash care instructions to ensure the life of the bra. Toss the bra if:
- Restriction against vertical movement decreases
- Synthetic fabrics begin to wear
- Fit seems too loose or big while your measurements have not changed.
Jump up and down! Twist side to side. Make sure the bra lets you move without shifting, binding, or chafing. If your sports bra doesn't fit, return it! At Eastern Mountain Sports, we accept all returns with a valid receipt.