Sports bras are one of the most underrated pieces of fitness equipment. During a marathon, your breasts can move up and down as much as an extra 3.1 miles beyond the 26.2 miles of the race. That is a lot of lost energy that could have propelled you forward during the race. Beyond the impact on performance, a poorly fitted sports bra can lead to pain and stiffness in the upper back, neck, and shoulders.
Myth - All sports bra are the same
Size, style, and quality matter. A good sports bra comes in band and cup sizes instead of just small, medium, and large. A more specific size ensures a snug but comfortable fit to prevent chafing and provide optimal support through your breasts, shoulders, and mid-back. Sports bras also come in different levels of support or impact. The level of impact should match the intensity of your activities, not your breast size. Low impact bras are best used for activities with minimal rapid up and down and side to side movement, such as yoga. High-impact bras are geared toward running, which has more rapid, repetitive up and down and side to side movements. Sports bras also vary in style. The styles vary in the design of the straps, the degree of coverage, and the fabric type. You need to find a design that fits your needs and is comfortable during your activities.
Myth - More supportive = more compression
Wearing a tighter, more compressive bra does not efficiently limit movement in your breasts. Instead, you put unnecessary stress on your rib cage and upper back. The extra compression through the ribcage decreases your ability to expand your lungs. This limits your ability to take in air when exercising. Tightening the straps of your bra compresses the muscles of your upper back and shoulders. This compression limits shoulder motion and causes the muscles to tighten and stiffen reflexively. Rather than getting a tighter compression bra to reduce movement, try getting a properly sized bra rated at an impact level that matches your activity.
Myth - Wearing two bras at once is more supportive
Just as noted above, more compression is not sufficient. Not only does the compression of two bras have its own issues, but the layers of fabric decrease your ability to wick away sweat and increase the friction between your skin and the fabric. If you feel like you need to wear two bras, then you are not in the correct size or style bra for you.
Myth - The size you measure dictates your correct bra size
Getting properly measured is very important. However, the size you measure is just the start. Once you have an idea of your size, you need to try various sports bra styles around your measured size. Every woman has a personal preference on how they like their bra to fit. Sizes and styles also vary across brands. For example, a 36C in one bra may not have the exact feel and fit as a 36C in a different brand.
Myth - Once you're fitted for a size that is your size for life
Bra size changes from time to time. Your size can vary due to several factors. Weight gain or loss, muscle mass and distribution changes, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and age may contribute to fluctuations in bra size. For this reason, it is essential to be re-fit regularly to ensure you have the correct fit for you. It is also important to note that as brands update and release new sports bras, the sizing and fit of a particular model may vary.
Myth - Sports bras can be worn for years
Just like your running shoes, the elastic and other material of your bra wears out over time. The fabric wears out with repeated use and washing. As the elastic becomes less responsive, the structure and support of the bra is compromised. Typically, your sports bras need to be replaced every 6-12 months. However, how often you wear it, wash it, and where your body places the most stress on the bra can affect how long it takes your bra to wear out. Some signs your bra is beginning to wear out include chafing in a new area along the bra line, tenderness in your breast after working out, or an increase in strain through your mid-back and shoulders when working out.