How to buy a sports bra

Caroline Cassidy

You might have the expensive running shoes, the high-tech kit and the motivation, but ladies who don't invest in a good sports bra are risking damage, pain and injury.

buying a sports bra
buying a sports bra

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Getting the correct support will not only make you more comfortable during physical exertion, but a recent study by the University of Portsmouth found that doing without a decent sports bra could even affect your performance.

Why choose a sports bra?
It's probably the first reason you think of when you consider buying a sports bra - saggy boobs. According to, high-energy sports can cause a woman's breasts to move up to ten or more centimetres, causing the primary supporting structures, the Cooper's ligaments, to stretch, no matter what your size.

Hardly surprising that many women find high-impact sports simply too painful without one. But that's not all. Doing without can affect other areas of the body, particularly for women with larger breasts.

During exercise, the excess weight at the front means the back muscles have to work harder to keep the shoulders in the correct position - if these muscles weaken and become stretched, it could result in a pain in the neck and the back. A proper sports bra will ensure your back isn't doing the hard work.

And for anyone who has experienced joggers' nipple, caused by friction between boob and T-shirt, a well-fitting sports bra will reduce the risk of suffering this painful condition.

What to choose?
Contrary to popular belief, sports bras with cups provide better support than the crop-top style designs (compression bras). Sportshoes report that research has shown the encapsulation-style bras with cups are better able to prevent vertical and horizontal motion of the breasts during exercise, particularly important during high-impact sports.

However, there are bras that cater for all types of exercise, so if you more into yoga and Pilates than running, you may find the low-impact variety more comfortable. Just make sure you're wearing the right bra for your chosen sport.

Even when you have selected your ideal bra, it is essential to change it regularly. Each washing cycle your bra goes though will damage its all-important elasticity, gradually decreasing its support effectiveness. Generally speaking, you should replace yours every six to ten months.

When that time comes, do get measured. Ideally you should have your breasts measured every six months, as boobs have a tendency to change with even small fluctuations in your weight or hormones. Since an ill-fitting bra is of little use, take the time to get the proper support for your size and shape.

To find the right sports bra for you, visit