From elite athletes to the casual walker, we all need proper support.
An ill-fitting sports bra can cause a host of problems, from damaged ligaments and stretch marks to pain, soreness and discomfort while working out. It can even affect performance. Studies show women shorten their stride length up to 4cm in an effort to control breast movement. In real terms, this means they run a full extra mile over the length of a marathon.
Here are some of the biggest mistakes women make when purchasing a sports bra and how to correct them, according to Nadia Borean, R&R’s expert bra fitter.
Fixating on Letters & Numbers
“But I’m always a 34C!” or “There’s no way I’m a 36DD….”
Women often get stuck in this way of thinking. But every bra will fit differently. Keep an open mind and don’t get hung up on the number or letter. Consider your “normal size” as a starting point.
Ignoring Smaller Breasts
We hear it often…”But, I don’t have much to support!”
Yes, a larger breast is heavier and will do more damage when not supported properly. However, a smaller breast that is not properly supported can still damage the same ligaments (called Cooper’s ligaments) supporting our breasts. And once they are stretched out, they cannot be repaired. (Naturally, that is).
Our bodies are constantly changing. With weight gain, weight loss and hormonal fluctuations, breasts are rarely the exact same size from month to month. Not to mention, we all have different torso lengths. Therefore, adjustability in a bra is key.
Adjustable straps help to get a proper fit around the cup and give longer wear to the bra. If you prefer a t-back style, always ensure it has adjustable straps.
For the closure, always start on the middle closure. Ideally, you should be able to fit two fingers underneath the closure. This will ensure the band is not too tight and that it is comfortable.
As women, we have a tendency to think that tighter is better. But a properly fitted bra doesn’t need to be tight or uncomfortable. It just needs to fit right. The band is the foundation of the bra and should fit evenly around the torso. This means no rising in the front or sitting too low in the back. Be wary if a bra is rising up or not sitting flat on your ribcage.
The cups of the bra need to fit perfectly snug. When the bra is on, there should be no gaping or puckered fabric. Keep in mind that there will always be a bit of overflow around the armpit area. This is natural and most women will have some. However, if there is too much spillover, you may need to go up in band size or possibly cup size.
Sisters Not Twins
It’s rare for a woman to have perfectly symmetrical breasts. Most of us have some asymmetry between the two. If this is the case with you, always fit to the smaller breast. This will avoid any puckering. There may be a bit of spillover on the larger side, but use the straps to adjust to the larger breast.
Your Bra Should Never Celebrate a Birthday
This one is a shocker to many. Similar to a shoe that needs to be replaced, your body will tell you when your bra is no longer properly supportive. Your back and shoulders will start to hurt as more bounce equates to more pain. With regular wear, you should look at transitioning your bra before one year of wear.
Once your bra has begun to lose its supportiveness, it’s time to transition it to a lower impact bra for use during yoga or cycling. Walking is still considered a higher impact activity and needs your best support.
Nothing destroys your bra faster than washing it in hot water and throwing it in the dryer. Keep your bra in the best shape and extend its life cycle by ALWAYS machine washing in cold water and air drying.
A properly-fitted sports bra is an important purchase, so take your time. Don’t rush the process and be open to trying on a variety of styles and brands. Talk to your fitter and let them know what you’re feeling when trying on each option. Communication is key to finding the right fit.
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