Selecting the right sports bra to support your breasts
As athletes, ensuring your breasts are supported by a supportive and well-fitted sports bra during exercise is extremely important.
When you exercise your breasts can move and bounce, no matter what size breasts you have. As your breasts have no muscle without proper support, the skin and Cooper’s ligaments (the ligaments near the breasts that give them their size and shape) can break down and cause sagging. Continuous and repetitive movement can also result in soreness and pain, particularly in your back.
What are the benefits of wearing a supportive sports bra?
Sports bras are made to reduce this movement and have numerous benefits including:
- Allowing greater comfort during exercise
- Minimising breast movement
- Reducing the risk of chafing
- Improving performance
- Improving posture
How do I choose a supportive sports bra?
No matter what type of exercise you are participating in, a supportive sports bra should the movement of your breasts. To select the sports bra that provides the right level of support you should consider:
- Your age – As you age you will require greater support from your bra as skin elasticity decreases with age reducing the natural support your breasts receive
- Breast support – Larger bra sizes are heavier and require more breast support
- Type of exercise – Exercises resulting in more vertical movement and rapid lower limb movement cause more breast movement and require greater breast support
How do I correctly fit my sports bra?
Unfortunately, over 80% of women wear the incorrect ill-fitting bra size, but it doesn’t have to be that way! To ensure you select a well-fitting sports bra and your breasts are adequately supported during exercise, we recommend you follow these guidelines:
- Measure your rib cage
To get your rib cage measurement needed to determine your band and cup size, measure around your rib cage just under your bust.
- Determine your band size
Use your rib cage measurement to fit your band size in the table below.
- Determine your cup size
To determine your cup size first measure the fullest part of your bust keeping the tape straight across your back (bust measurement). Next, subtract your rib cage measurement from your bust measurement. To find your cup size in the table below, use the difference between your rib cage measurement (in inches) and bust measurement. If you are between cup sizes, size up.
The perfect sports bra fit checklist
- The front of the band sits flat against your breast bone with the ability to fit two fingers between your body and the band
- Not too tight (too small)
- No bulging over the top of the band (too small)
- It does not lift upwards when you raise your hands over your head (too big)
- The Underwire sits on the breast bone and on the ribs
- The underwire should not sit on any breast tissue (inappropriate design or too small)
- Your breasts should be centred and fully contained in the cups
- No budging of breasts over the top or sides of the cup (too small)
- No gaps or wrinkles in the cup (too big)
- Rest comfortably on the shoulder with the ability to fit two fingers between your shoulder and the band
- No digging in (too small)
- No sliding off the shoulder (too big)
For more information about breast health visit our web page.
- Breast health: Everything an athlete needs to know
- Breast health and bra fit
- Exercise and breast support
- Education improves bra knowledge and fit, and level of breast support in adolescent female athletes: a cluster-randomised trial.
- Optimising breast support in female patients through correct bra fit
- The biomechanics of better bras: improving support and comfort during exercise