Why Sports Bras are a Must for Women Whilst Exercising – The Benefits

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Written by Penny Cooper

Apart from running shoes or trainers, if there is one thing to invest in, it is a sports bra. I’ve delved into the origins and benefits of sports bras.

This article includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products we have discussed in this article, we may receive a small commission.

Benefits of Wearing a Sports Bra Whilst Exercising

5 young women exercising showing the benefits of sports bras

1. Super Support

This is the main benefit- fabulous support. It is important to get the correct size so get measured for a sports bra. See “How to measure yourself” later.

A good sports bra doesn’t dig into your skin and properly fitted, may help delay breast sagging as women age.

Wear a sports bra that stays in place yet doesn’t cut into your skin.

Consider options like compression and encapsulation bras, which are designed to reduce breast movement and provide the necessary support for sports and exercise.

2. No Bouncing Boobs: Reduce Breast Pain

Exercising without a proper sports bra can cause breast pain and discomfort and stretched skin and ligaments that can lead to saggy breasts.

All this jigging about and activity puts your breasts under considerable strain especially if you have a large breast size.

Certain activities like running and HIIT can force exaggerated boob movement and a specialized sports bra might be preferred.

Compression sports bras are designed to compress breast tissue to the chest to limit breast movement.

3. Comfort For Increased Performance

Wearing a sports bra means there is no digging in but still plenty of support.

A good comfortable sports bra will help to wick away sweat as well as keep you cool, as many sports bras feature a variety of lightweight fabrics but allow for circulation.

A cotton blend bra will feel soft and wicking. More technical fabrics like Coolmax and Lycra provide wicking properties as well as offering stretchy support.

The Benefits of Sports Bras. Why invest?

As a Fitness Instructor, I always recommend women wear sports bras, irrespective of the size of their boobs.

Choosing the right sports bra depends upon your activity level but one is essential.

What are the sports bra benefits?

As you may already be aware, our breast tissue is fragile and needs support.

When you go running or workout, your breasts bounce in three directions- up and down, in and out and side to side, leading to excessive breast movement overall.

All this jigging about and activity puts your breasts under considerable strain especially if you have large boobs.

Research by the Shock Absorber Sports Institute (SASI), shows that on average, a woman’s breast moves 9.08 cm or 3.5 inches with every stride when running!

Woman running

Apart from a sports bras, the only support is from the delicate Cooper’s ligaments.

Named after physician Astley Cooper in 1840, these ligaments are the fibrous connections between the inner side of the breast skin and the pectoral muscles.

The Coopers’ ligaments are largely responsible for maintaining the shape of your breast and help stop the breast from drooping.

Unfortunately, age and gravity can contribute to saggy boobs, but wearing correctly fitted sports bras will help.

Where it all Began

Invented in the ’70s, the original runners’ sports bra concept, believe it or not, came from a particularly male item. By sewing two jockstraps together.

It was called the Jockbra but later became known as the Jogbra. Sports bras have come a long way since 1977.

The Jockbra or jogbra

What to Look for When Choosing Sports Bras

6 different sports bras

1. Type of Support Needed

The type of sports bra depends upon your size and the sport or fitness activity.

Running requires high-impact sports bras, as these bras are designed to support the breasts during activities that involve a lot of bouncing or jerky movements.

A medium-intensity sports bra is for those activities which don’t involve too much jumping around like strength training or lighter gym workouts.

Low-intensity sports bras would be suitable for workouts involving mat or floor exercises like yoga or pilates.

2. Compression or Encapsulation Bra

Compression bras compress the breast against the chest and usually come in crop-top styles.

Unlike a regular bra, a sports bra minimises breast movement during physical activity, regulates blood circulation, absorbs sweat, improves posture, and prevents muscle and bone injuries.

If you have larger breasts, choose an encapsulation style. Smaller-breasted women like me may feel a compression sports bra style is more suitable.

There is a hybrid version of the sports bra which has emerged and as you might have guessed both compresses and encapsulates.

Each separate cup has a layer of compression material over it to create a secure but comfortable feel. It’s the best of both worlds although it will always depend on the quality of the product as a whole.

Compression tops are a whole different area and we have a guide with reviews of compression tops for men and women.

3. Strap width

Make sure the sports bra straps are wider than a standard bra. This will help to support the breasts and prevent the straps from becoming uncomfortable or digging in.

Getting the right fit with your sports bra

4. Type of Material

Ensure the material is breathable and comfortable to wear. Also, check that there are no seam lines on the inside of the cups that would cause chafing.

5. Wearing the Right Size

Your breasts should be fully covered and should not be pouring out of either the top or sides of the sports bra.

When trying on, take a deep breath to make sure the sports bra fits comfortably. If it rides up at the back, the underband is either too loose or the straps need adjusting.

The sports bra should fit snugly but not be so tight that you can’t breathe.

A lot of women wear the wrong size bra so here’s a simple guide to finding your correct back and cup size.

Back size:

Measure your bust just underneath your breasts all around the body in inches. If the measurement is even, deduct four inches from this figure. If the measure is uneven, deduct five inches. This is your back size.

Cup size:

Measure your breasts at their fullest and widest point, the nipples. Take the measuring tape all around your back.

Now deduct your final back measurement from the cup measurement. If the difference is five inches you are an “A” cup. For every extra inch, add another cup size.

The Sports Bra I Currently use.

Champion bra

I’ve tried many different supportive sports bras over the years and I am currently loving the Champion Razorback bra for the lovely feel of the material and the subtle way it supports.

<– This isn’t me. I’m less young and less keen to show my ageing body.

It provides great back support, which I need and looks good.

Enjoy the comfort and support of a good sports bra in helping you to get fit whatever your age.
Let us know how you get on with the choice you make.

Photo of author
Penny is a Personal Trainer currently training as a wellness coach. She gained a BA in English at Edinburgh University. Redundancy from retail management hastened a move to helping people get fit and writing about all things fitness in middle age.

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