Figuring out your correct sports bra size can be as difficult as finding a shoe that fits properly. However, it is important to spend time identifying your correct bra size so that you do not risk damaging your breast tissue during workouts. Impact activities jolt the skin on your chest, which can in turn cause tissue breakdown, sagging, and stretched ligaments. Sports bras are the best way to prevent these uncomfortable and damaging injuries.
A good-fitting sports bra minimizes the movement of your chest. It has the ability to wick moisture away from the skin and allows for a cooling flow of air between the breasts. A properly proportioned and contoured sports bra also minimizes chafing and doesn't have straps that dig into the shoulders. The band around the lower chest isn't too loose or too tight, and the garment's thread is soft enough to minimize skin irritation.
The first two things to consider when purchasing a sports bra are (1) your body type, and (2) the activities you will be doing while wearing the bra. Different body types have different bust movements that will effect the type of bra you will need. How much perspiration an activity generates determines the amount of moisture management you will need in your bra. In fact, you might even need several different sports bras if you are involved in a wide range of athletic activities.
There are three types of sports bras: compression bras, encapsulated compression bras, and adjustable encapsulated compression bras. The compression bra is the most common sports bra and is designed to minimize movement by pressing the chest flat as a single unit. The compression bra works well for small- to medium-chested women. Encapsulated bras are best for larger-chested women. Encapsulated bras resemble regular bras-some even have underwires-but they offer even more support by compressing each breast individually rather than compressing them as a single unit. Adjustable encapsulation bras provide maximum support for the larger-breasted runner. This bra type incorporates encapsulation, a wide adjustable band, and wide/rigid adjustable straps to create a custom fit and full support.
To increase your chances of buying a properly fitting sports bra, follow these general measurement instructions:
See the Women's Apparel Sizing Charts in our learning center for information about how your regular bra size (e.g. 34B) compares to your apparel size (e.g. medium).
First of all, keep in mind that a good sports bra will fit more snugly than a regular bra. Test for motion control by doing a few of jumping jacks or running in place with the bra on. Does the bra minimize your chest movement comfortably? Next, clasp your hands above your head. If the elastic band around your chest moves up, the bra doesn't fit properly. Finally, check to see if the seams are smooth and soft so that your skin will not become irritated during movement.