Women’s sports in Ireland have never been so popular, with more and more women around the country getting active. Whether you are a runner, camogie player, cyclist, tennis player, boxer, or have a passion for any type of sport – you need the right kit. That means investing in a goods sports bra.

Sports bras offer a level of support that a regular bra can’t provide. The importance of that support can not be overlooked.  Don’t believe us? Ask the experts, Joma, Brooks, Ronhill, and Under Armour have all invested hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars into sports bra design. All brands that you can find at The Edge.

Why Sports Bras Are Important

1. Prevent Breast Pain

Not wearing a sports bra or wearing the wrong kind can result in considerable pain. Movement and impact during sport cause breasts to move more than they normally would. With that comes strain on your breasts themselves but also the ribs.

2. Reduce Irreversible Damage

Damage to breasts, such as sagging can not be naturally repaired. Wearing the wrong sports bra means that the ligaments around your breast will become stretched, causing sag. There are no muscles in the breasts, so when these ligaments get stretched, it is irreversible.

3. Improve Performance

Researchers have found that good bra support during sports can significantly increase performance. Proving that when breasts are inadequately supported, the pectoral muscles behind them work harder to hold everything where it should be. With proper support, the pectorals expend less energy, and the body rechannels that saved energy into your performance.

4. Prevent Back Pain

Wearing a regular bra or an ill-fitting sports bra during training or competing can lead to back pain. That pain is caused by bad posture created by the impact of the lack of support. If you have ever felt your upper back, neck, or shoulders surprisingly achy after a game or workout, your bra could be the culprit.

5. A Good Bra Is Good Breast Care

It’s never too early to start making good choices for your breasts. A good sports bra is just one part of good breast care. It’s also advisable to check the shape, size and surface of your breasts regularly for changes.

Types Of Sport Bras

Sports bra designers have stepped up their game in recent years, meaning there’s now a lot of choice for you. Not only do sports bras offer more support than ever before, but they look good too.  That said, there’s more to the design than good looks. Here are some of the different design features to look for:

Racerback bras

The straps on your sports bra can vary, and with that variation comes different levels of support. Racerback sports bras pull in the breasts and distribute the pressure evenly on the back. The result is more support.

Tank bras

For low impact sports, yoga and cycling, a tank bra should offer sufficient support. Rather than holding the breasts tight in place, tanks provide a more relaxed support design.

Encapsulation bras

These look the most like regular bras as encapsulation bras have two cups.

Compression bras

Arguably the most supportive type of sports bra, the compression design holds the breasts close to the chest. A compression bra aims to prevent as much movement as possible.

Combination bras

The best sports bras are now combining the most effective design qualities. You can now find sports bras specifically for runners, for example, which are a combination of compression and encapsulation.

Choosing The Right Fit Of Sports Bra

“When any bra fits right, it can make you feel more confident,” says Nicole Rendone, Design Nike’s Director of Bras and Innovation. “But the right sports bra can make you want to do the things that will actually make you fit and healthy.”

Choosing the right sports bra is about more than cup size and style. You have to consider the sports you play and the level of impact on your breasts too. Take your time choosing the right sports bra.

A well-designed compression bra might serve you best for high-impact sports like running and contact sports like rugby. Team sports players might also prefer a sports bra that has padding to protect them from bruising. 

Here’s our step by step guide for choosing the right sports bra.

Step 1 – Start with your regular bra size.

The shape difference of sports bra compared to bras designed for day-to-day to day use creates a size difference. Start with your usual bra size and try a bigger or smaller size depending on how it fits you.

Step 2 – Check the straps and band.

When trying on a new sports bra, the straps and band are an essential part of the fit. Many people just focus on cup size, but this is only part of where the support and comfort come from.

Neither the straps nor the band at the bottom of the bra should be tight. They should be snugger than a regular bra, though. If you can do these two things, then they fit you just right:

  1. Fit your finger beneath a strap and run it up and down. This should be easy to do, but the strap should not feel loose or slip off your shoulder. Try the same with the band. Again it should be easy to slide your finger from side to side but not loose.
  2. Lift your arms above your head without the straps moving off the shoulder or band sliding up.

Step 3 – Check for potential areas of chafe.

When we work out and play sports, the movement combined with the sweat can cause chafing. This usually happens in the areas under the arm. Moisture-wicking fabrics will help, but a good fit will prevent chafing. When trying on your bra, check that these areas aren’t tight.

Step 4 – Check the cups.

Bra cup shape and size vary depending on sports bra type and brand. The right cup size will hold your breasts in place but not squash them uncomfortably. There should also be no bulge at the top of the cup. When checking the size, also check that the band at the bottom of the bra, around your ribs, hasn’t been pushed forward. If it has, then you will need another cup size.

Step 5 – Check the underwire.

Some people prefer a sports bra with an underwire. The three key areas to check for a good fitting underwired sports bra are:

  • Underneath the breast
  • Between the breasts
  • Where the breast meets the armpit

The wire underneath and around the cup should fit flat and flush against your skin. There should be space or areas where it digs in. Equally, the wire should sit flat against the skin between the breasts and not dig into the breasts. An underwire should always sit below the armpit and not ride up.

Step 6 – Do the jiggle test.

Now that you’ve checked all the straps, bands, and wire, it’s time for the last test. A sports bra is only good if it stays where it’s supposed to be when you move. To test this, run on the spot a little and try a few jumping jacks. If everything stays in place, then you have found your perfect sports bra.