23 May 2005

Do's and don'ts of choosing a sports bra

You've read our tips on how to choose the right sports bra, you know your correct size and now you're in the sports shop staring at a bewildering array of sports bras. Now what?

You've read our tips on how to choose the right sports bra, you know your correct size and now you're in the sports shop staring at a bewildering array of sports bras. Read on to find out what you should and should not do next.


  • Always pick function over fashion. Support and comfort should come first and if you are “well-endowed”, rather go for a more rigidly constructed bra.
  • The “jump test.” Jump up and down in the change room, waving your arms up and down. Try and simulate the actions that your sport requires and see if the bra allows free movement. The sports bra should feel secure with minimal breast movement. Your upper body should move as one unit.
  • Take some deep breaths – the bra should be snug but not constricting.

  • Clap your hands over your head. If the bra rides up, it doesn't fit properly.

  • Check for anything on the bra that might cause chafing.

  • Check the label to see if the fabric is made of cotton blended with a breathable material such as lycra, polyester, Coolmax or polypropylene.

  • The fabric should be at least a 25% Lycra content to allow for a comfortable horizontal stretch, anything less and the ball might not be the only thing bouncing around the court.

  • Check that the cups are the right size. Any bulging means that the cups are too small, while any wrinkling means that they are too big.

  • Make sure that the bra is not see-through.

  • Make sure that the bra does not cut into the skin under your armpit.

  • Check that the centrepiece of an encapsulation bra lies flat against your breastbone. If it lies away from your body, you should try a larger cup size.

  • Check if the back of the bra rides up. If it does, get a smaller size.


  • Do not lie to yourself about your bra size. Find the correct size and then the style that caters for your needs, or else exercise could become an unpleasant and not an uplifting experience!
  • Do not buy a sports bra that you will feel embarrassed to wear. If you are self-conscious about your body, don't buy a crop top rather choose a bra that you can wear under your T-shirt.
  • Do not be too concerned about what the bra looks like or how it makes your boobs look. Remember that the primary function of a sports bra is to offer you comfort and support. Once you've exercised with a good sports bra on, you'll find the whole experience a lot more pleasant and this will encourage you to continue exercising so that you CAN look good in that lacy lingerie that he gave you for Christmas!
  • Do not buy a sports bra with too many uncovered hooks, clasps or zips that may cause chafing.
  • Do not buy the first bra you see. Try on a number of different styles to see which one is the most comfortable. Remember that if it's not comfortable in the change room, then it sure won't be comfortable on a 30-kilometre cycle!
(Ingrid Bosch, Health24)

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