The No-Fail Trick to a Comfortable Sports Bra

It’s so simple you won’t believe you’re not doing it already.

Avoiding the gym? Sometimes it’s the workout you don’t want to do. And sometimes, it’s just the idea of wrestling a sports bra over your head and squeezing it onto your body (only to have it do little to nothing in the way of support) that keeps you on the couch.

Believe it or not, sports bras weren’t actually designed to be uncomfortable. It turns out, we may actually be to blame for our own pain. One of the biggest reasons they bug us is that we tend to wear the wrong bra for our sport, says Tamara Hill-Norton, founder and creative director of sweatybetty.com.

While choosing a running bra for running and a yoga bra for yoga sounds ike a no-brainer, you likely don’t consider this when you toss a bra into your gym bag (said bra was likely just the first one you saw in the drawer, right?).

But too-little support during a higher-intensity exercise can be painful. “The bra simply doesn’t have the supportive technology that you need; it’s basically like wearing socks without shoes to run a marathon,” says Hill-Norton. “Without any built-in support, as any person with breasts can attest, they bounce up and down freely, which can cause a fair bit of discomfort.”

If you have the right fitting bra for your sport, though, you’ll improve your comfort and confidence and prevent more serious damage. Let’s get a little technical. “When you move, your breasts bounce in a 3D motion, so without a supportive sports bra the Cooper’s Ligaments—an internal band of elastic tissue that supports the breasts and keeps them upright—can stretch irreversibly,” Hil-Norton notes. “Once they’ve stretched there’s no going back.”

Here’s how to prevent that from happening.

ultra-run-bra
Photo by sweatybetty.com

If you’re a runner, aim for a high-support bra with padded shoulder straps and either encapsulation or compression technology, Hill-Norton says. “Carefully placed seams on the outside of the bra also ensure no unwanted chafing,” she adds.

To buy: $65; sweatybetty.com.


shanti-yoga-bra
Photo by sweatybetty.com

For something like yoga or Pilates, super soft fabrics and light support, like the Shanti Yoga Bra, will provide enough comfort.

To buy: $65; sweatybetty.com.

And don’t hang on to your favorites forever—you need to replace your athletic wear at least twice a year: “A sports bra has an expiry date of around six months, as they stretch over time,” says Hill-Norton.