Sports Bras 101

For exercising, many people make the unfortunate mistake of thinking they can wear their everyday bra to work out when you really need to purchase a sports bra. Sports bras are designed to help protect your Cooper’s ligaments, which are the connective tissues responsible for maintaining your breasts’ lift and shape over time. Ranging from low to high impact, sports bras are available in two basic styles: encapsulation and compression.

Encapsulation style sports bras typically use underwire to separate the breasts, encapsulating them in the cup, so that each breast gets an individualized level of control and support.  Furthermore, because the two breasts are completely separated, you reduce the risk of rashes or chafing between them. Similar to regular underwire bras, the encapsulation sports bras have both foam and non-foam cup styles and often have a superior size range with some styles available up to UK K cup in select bands.  Not to mention, most are comfortable enough to wear as an everyday bra, especially for anyone looking for a lot of control and support or who have an active job.  Finally, the underwire and cup shape combine to lessen if not eliminate the trademark sports bra uniboob that a compression style bra will give.

From top left: Wacoal 855170, Panache Sports Bra, Freya Active UW Sports Bra, Elomi Energise

Compression sports bras, on the other hand, work by pressing breast tissue firmly against your chest and holding it in place as you move.  Most of these do not contain underwire, which can feel more comfortable during intense workouts, and some people find they have better hold during exercise.

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Top Left: Anita 5527, Enell 100, Goddess Sport, Moving Comfort Fiona

Regardless of which style best suits your needs, sports bras have other important features that distinguish them from everyday bras, such as padded straps for comfort and moisture-wicking fabric that pulls sweat away from the body to prevent chafing.  It’s also important to take into account what activities you perform as well as what bra size you wear and then purchase the appropriate impact level.  Energetic activities like tennis or running require a high-impact sports bra, especially if you are fuller-busted, while milder activities like yoga or walking, do not require as much control and support (although you can certainly still use a high-impact sports bra for them too).