Sports Therapy and Pilates

Why Should Women Wear A Sports Bra?


There are many reasons why women should wear a sports bra. Bras, like boobs come in many different shapes and sizes. There are glam bras, sexy bras, wow bras, uplifting bras… and be honest… those everyday work bras! Sport also comes in many different guises. There are high impact sports such as running and jumping sports, medium impact sports such as cycling, horse riding and skiing, and low impact exercise like Pilates and yoga. So, like you choose your bra depending on mood and outfit, you should also choose your sports bra depending on exercise variety.

Am I Wearing the Right Sports Bra?

You are going for run, you grab your sports bra out of the drawer, wrestle your way into it and off you go. The next morning you are doing some Pilates and grab the same sports bra. But these exercises are so different and require different support levels. The breasts contain minimal internal support consisting only of skin and Coopers ligaments. Every time we take a step our breast tissue moves in a figure of 8 bounce. That’s up and down and to each side every single step. This lack of muscle in the breast results in motion and bounce during exercise. This can lead to:

  • Exercise related breast pain.
  • Long term sagging developing.
  • Forces acting on the body which can affect sports performance.
  • Psychological anxiety and insecurity – feeling like people are watching your bounce!

Sports Bra Fit:

You should typically be the same size in your sports bra as your normal everyday bra. This will vary a lot by manufacturer. Try this 5-step bra fit approach developed by breast biomechanics researchers at the University of Portsmouth.

  1. Strap Length – each strap can be adjusted to different lengths according to the slope of your shoulders, as you may feel one strap needs to be tighter than the other one.
  2. Underwire Shape – if you press on the underwire of the bra, it should press against the bone of your ribcage and not onto breast tissue, encasing your breasts, not digging into them.
  3. Back Fit – you should be able to just fit 2 fingers under the band and feel snug.
  4. Cup Fit – breasts spilling out the top of the cup indicate its too small, and wrinkling or gapping in the bra material indicates it’s too big.
  5. Front Band – the middle should sit flat against your breastbone. If it’s pulling away leaving a gap the cup size is too small.

Benefits of Wearing a Sports Bra:


The level of support you choose really does depend on the type of exercise you are doing. High impact sports bras are designed to hold your breasts during the most intensive movements. If you are choosing a sports bra for running then you really should be looking for a high impact bra as it will reduce the figure of 8 movement of each breast with each step and help to reduce any exercise induced pain, sagging and unwanted stares! But if you are cycling or taking part in a Pilates or yoga class then you can get away with a lower impact one which may be more comfortable.


If you make the right choice in terms of style, size and impact level, sports bras should feel comfortable. They are made from moisture-wicking breathable fabric which is ideal for those warmer more active days when you might perspire more. The straps on sports bras are designed to stay put and can be wider or padded to stop them digging in. They also offer more coverage than an everyday bra which helps with comfort but also modesty as you exercise. They allow you to run and jump, twist and lean down without worrying about exposing yourself!


Long gone are the days when sports bras were the ugliest thing you had lurking in your underwear drawer! These days they are colourful and bright, with creative styling options to match with gym tops. Racer back sports bras have been popular for a long time, but now more strap options are available. You can choose from seamless cups which are more discreet under tighter tops, or go for padded or moulded cup options if you need an extra boost…because we still want to feel and look our best when exercising!

How Often Should I Replace My Sports Bra?

Generally, it is advised that you treat your sports bras like you would a pair of trainers. Every 6-12 months!! Training for and running a marathon will wear down a sports bra faster than a quick jog or Pilates class. Unfortunately, the rate at which your sports bra loses its support and comfort will be related to how big your boobs are. Look out for worn labels, discolouration, stitching coming undone, and straps and bands that no longer provide tension for support. If your sports bra isn’t providing the correct level of support, then continued use can lead to breast tissue damage and ultimately sagging and stretching.

Ultimately choosing a sports bra comes down to comfort and what exercise you are doing. We don’t need one bra for all activities, there are so many options out there for us now we can start to think of our sports bras as part of our workout – helping with support and comfort and making us feel great as we enjoy the exercise which makes us feel so good!

Written by Rhea Malkin BSc (Hons) Sports Therapist MSST and APPI and STOTT Reformer Pilates Instructor.



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