Sales of sports bras are skyrocketing, with the market projected to reach a whopping £11.8 billion worldwide by 2025. It seems that more and more women are recognizing the importance of a well-fitting sports bra, thanks to research showing that it can minimize discomfort, reduce the risk of injuries, and even improve performance during exercise. In fact, a recent study from the University of Memphis found that good breast support can boost an athlete’s running performance by 7 percent!
But it’s not just elite athletes who can benefit from the right sports bra. That’s where the “bra professor” herself, Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, comes in. She’s here to share her expert advice on how to find the perfect sports bra for your shape and exercise type.
First things first, make sure the bra fits snugly around your rib cage and fully encloses your breasts within the cups. No bulging or gaping allowed! Believe it or not, about 80 percent of the support actually comes from the back band, so it’s crucial to get that part right. You should only be able to pull the fabric about 5 cm away from your body. And if the underband feels a little tight on its loosest setting, then you’ve probably found the right size.
Next, check that the front of the bra sits flat against your body with no gaping. The shoulder straps should feel comfortable without digging into your shoulders. And here’s a fun test: jump up and down and shadow the movements involved in the sport you want to use the bra for. If it passes the bounce test, you’re good to go!
Now, let’s talk about specific recommendations for different bust sizes and impact levels. For those with a small bust engaging in low-impact activities like yoga, a compression-style crop-top bra is usually a great choice. Look for ones made of stretchy material that flatten the breasts against the chest to minimize bounce. Avoid bulky clasps at the back that might irritate you when you’re lying down. Some top picks in this category include the Nike Indy and the Adidas Yoga Studio light-support bra.
But even small busts need more support for high-impact activities like running, HIIT, tennis, and team sports. That’s where hybrid bras come in. These have encapsulated cups under a stretchy outer layer to support each breast. For this category, we recommend the Nike Swoosh High Support and the Maaree Empower sports bra.
Now, let’s move on to those with a full bust engaging in high-impact activities. It’s best to go to a specialist bra shop for a fitting or arrange an online fitting, as few sports outlets have staff trained in bra sizing. Look for bras with “encapsulation technology” that separate and support each breast, creating a 3D shape. Larger bust sizes might benefit from thick, strong shoulder straps and more hook-and-eye fastenings at the back for maximum support. Some top picks for this category include the Maaree Solidarity high-impact sports bra and the Bravissimo Inspire high-impact crop sports bra.
Lastly, for those with a full bust engaging in low-impact activities, some support is still necessary. Look for bras with encapsulation or a hybrid of compression and encapsulation. Avoid anything too tight that might restrict movement. The Bravissimo Swift non-wired sports bra and the Bravissimo Motion crop top are great options in this category.
So there you have it, the ultimate guide from the “bra professor” herself on how to find the perfect sports bra for your shape and exercise type. Happy shopping and happy exercising!