“Your sports bra is just as important as your walking shoes,” claims Silvia Ruegger, a sports-bra specialist with Brooks Canada. “It should be so comfortable and supportive that you don’t even think about it.” Many walkers will know that finding such a bra, however, is easier said than done.
Finding the right sports bra is even tougher than finding a good lingerie bra, says Ruegger. The numerous options in designs, fabrics, closures and straps – all necessary to fit various body shapes – can be overwhelming. She advises that walkers find a specialty sportswear store that offers fittings and arrive armed with some basic knowledge. Here are Ruegger’s top tips for finding the right bra for you.
Choose the right type
If you’re a small- or medium-breasted woman, try a compression-style bra that presses your breasts to your chest wall. It should fit snugly without feeling constricting. If you find this style unflattering – Ruegger calls it the “uniboob” look – go for a style with removable padded inserts to give you more shape.
Women of all sizes can wear an encapsulation-style bra, which surrounds and holds each breast individually. Larger-breasted women usually feel most supported with this style.
If neither of these options leaves you feeling solidly supported, try a style that offers both compression and encapsulation.
Try various styles
Choose a style that best fits your body type and lifestyle.
Standard back closure: Stick to a back-closure style if you want lots of size choice or are hard to fit. Unlike other styles, you’ll wear the same size as your lingerie bra. More choice in size often means a better fit.
T-back: This pull-over-the-head design is popular because it allows freer movement of the arms, offers extra support and eliminates pesky slipping straps. You can also wear it with stylish workout tops that have bigger armholes. One drawback is that fewer sizes are available for many T-backs; sizing tends to be small, medium and large or A/B and C/D cups.
Front closure: Some women like a front-closure sports bra for speedy locker-room changes, says Dana Bindon of Sports Bras Etc. in Edmonton. Sales of Oprah’s favourite corset-like front-closure bra – with 11 hooks and eyes! – have skyrocketed since she gave it her blessing.
Check the fabric
Most sports bras are made with Lycra, which holds your breasts in place, and high-performance synthetic fabrics that wick away moisture to keep you dry and cool. Unlike cotton, these fabrics retain their shape even when you sweat.
Test the fit
Before purchasing, check that your breasts aren’t spilling out of the sides and that there’s no puckering in the fabric. Then jump up and down and watch the mirror to see that your upper body moves as one unit. Be sure you can breathe deeply without feeling restricted and swing your arms freely.
Women with larger chests should try options such as wider straps, padded straps, gel straps, a higher neckline and a wider rib band, suggests Bindon, who sells sizes 32A through 52G at her shop. Women who have had a mastectomy can slip the padding out of some special padded sports bras and replace it with a prosthesis.
Sports bras can be tossed in the washer, but hang them to dry. Heat from the dryer breaks down the fabric and decreases its ability to wick away moisture. Also, avoid fabric softener and static-guard sheets, warns Ruegger. They create a film on the fabric that affects its breathability and moisture-control properties.