Choosing the Right Sports Bra for Your Next Workout

By Kelly Montague, AT

Shopping for a sports bra sounds simple – pick one you like, right? However, many women are unable to find one that is comfortable enough to work out in.

Some may avoid exercise altogether due to being self-conscious about how they look and feel, or even because they have pain due to a lack of support from a well-fitted bra. Finding one that provides adequate support not only allows you to be more comfortable and confident while exercising, but also protects your breast tissue and can help in reducing chest and back pain.

The most common sports bra you find in department stores is a compression style, which aids in the breast tissue moving away and toward the chest.

However, research has shown that the breast tissue actually moves in more of a figure-8 pattern during exercise, which strains the Cooper’s ligament – the ligament that keeps your breasts lifted. No matter your cup size, wearing an encapsulated style sports bra that has separate cups will limit the strain on the Cooper’s ligaments and protect the elasticity of the ligaments (meaning this helps prevent sagging overtime).

Here are some other tips for finding the perfect sports bra:

  1. Look for wide or crossed straps. This also prevents any sagging while working out by providing extra support. A strap that crosses your back in an “X” shape or other pattern will help prevent straps from sliding off, even if you have rounded shoulders. Many sports bras have strappy-style backs that can be both trendy and supportive.
  2. Find one with hook closures or a zipper. This is especially helpful if you are a C cup or larger. Styles that you pull over your head become stretched out over time and can also be a hassle to remove when sweaty. The hook-styled sports bra will also relieve tension in your back by allowing you to adjust the fit.
  3. Look for moisture-wicking fabric. This material allows for more comfort during a hard workout by not retaining all of your sweat in the fabric. It can also keep you much cooler by not trapping heat in. Pay attention to its cleaning instructions to ensure you maintain its durability and to avoid any lingering smells.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need help finding the right fit – many specialty stores will also help fit and size you properly to make your shopping experience even easier.

In the end, find what is comfortable and affordable for you. Don’t let not having a proper sports bra be your excuse for not working out – because building strength will ultimately help with aches and pains you may be experiencing.


Kelly Montague, AT, is an Athletic Trainer with Mission Sports Medicine.

Athletes and weekend warriors can take advantage of the Mission Orthopedic & Sports Medicine same-day clinic located at 310 Long Shoals Rd., Suite 200, in Arden, Monday-Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm, and the Concussion Clinic on Friday afternoons. To schedule an appointment, call 828-782-9330. For more information on our orthopedic services and office locations, visit missionhealth.org/orthopedics [1].