Wearing the wrong size or type of bra when exercising is not only uncomfortable, but it can also lead to back, neck and breast pain, and sometimes even result in serious damage to ligaments. Before buying a bra for exercise, putting some thought into exactly what type of activity you are planning to engage in and choosing a bra to match accordingly can help you avoid unnecessary pain. A sports bra for running is designed to provide maximum support, so wearing a bra designed for low impact activities like yoga whilst engaging in high impact exercise is not going to be ideal.
Matching Bras to Activities
Sports bras fall into three categories that relate to exercise impact and the relative support required.
Low impact activities require the lowest level of support. Bras that fall into this category are ideal for wearing while doing yoga, strength training, walking, and other low impact activities.
If you enjoy medium impact activities such as skiing, hiking and road cycling, then you’re going to need a bra that provides a medium level of support.
When you need a sports bra for running, jogging, aerobics, mountain biking or athletics – which are all high impact activities – you’re going to require as much support as possible. A high impact sports bra is therefore recommended to provide the support you need.
Types of Bras
There are a variety of sports bras available, so once you know what level of impact support you need, the next step is to choose what type of bra to buy. If you’re the kind of person who participates in a variety of activities that span all of the aforementioned impact levels, then investing in a bra to suit each of these is ideal.
Types of bras available include:
Encapsulation Sports Bras
These bras are similar to the kind worn daily for regular activities. They use individual cups to provide support to each breast separately and are best suited to low impact activities that require the least amount of support.
Compression Sports Bras
These bras function by compressing the breasts against the chest wall and restricting movement. Suitable for medium impact activities, these bras are pulled over the head and do not have built-in cups.
Compression/Encapsulation Sports Bras
If you require a sports bra for running, mountain biking, or any other high impact activity, then a bra that combines compression and encapsulation is going to be your best bet. Compression/encapsulation sports bras offer more support than either method can provide alone, making them perfect for high impact activities that require maximum support.
Another factor to take into account is the straps. Each strap type has its own unique benefits, so it is best to decide what sports and activities you’re planning to partake in and choose with this in mind. Usually, the wider the straps, the more support the bra will provide. However, if aesthetics are an issue, a thinner strap may be better for you as they are easier to conceal.
Strap types include:
• Criss cross
• Tank top
With all of these points in mind, it all comes back to finding the right bra to suit your specific needs. If you match activity impact types with bra support types, you’ll be on the right track to finding the perfect sports bra for running, walking, skiing, mountain biking, and other activities.