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10 Common Sports Bra Fitting Problems and How to Solve Them

A sports bra is an essential piece of exercise equipment for women, but unfortunately sports bra fitting problems are common.  You shouldn’t have to put up with an uncomfortable or poor fitting sports bra.  We have summarised the 10 most common fitting issues to help you find a more suitable size or style to support your breasts.

Bra Fitting Problem band too big

Bra Fitting Problem: Band rides up when I exercise.

Fix: A smaller band size

This is an indication that the band size is too large.  A lot of the support in a sports bra comes from the band. So it is important to make sure this is a snug fit.  If the cups fit well on your breasts it is advisable to go down a back size and up a cup size.  As the cups do vary slightly between the band sizes.  E.g. if a 16D is too loose in the band but fits well in the cup, try a 14E.

This problem can also occur as your bra becomes older and well used as the elasticity in the band can stretch.  Definitely a sign that you need to replace your sports bra.

Bra Fitting Problem: Band feels too tight and restrictive.

Fix: A bigger band size

It is important for the band of a sports bra to fit nice and snug. As this is where a lot of the support comes from.  It is common for the band to feel tighter than your regular everyday bra.  However it still needs to feel comfortable.  If the band feels too tight but the cups fit well it is advisable to go up a back size and down a cup size.  E.g. If a size 14E is too tight in the band but fits well in the cup, try 16D.

Bra Fitting Problem band too tight
Bra Fitting Problem cup too small - breast tissue spillage

Bra Fitting Problem: Breast tissue is spilling over the top

Fix: A bigger cup size

This is usually due to the cup size being too small.  It is not unusually to vary in cup size between different styles of bras.  If increasing the cup size still doesn’t completely resolve the issue. The style of cut of the bra itself may be the issue.  Look for a style that has fuller coverage across the top of the bra to help contain our breast tissue.

Bra Fitting Problem: Breast tissue is spilling out of the sides

Fix: Side seaming or boning

If your breasts are naturally full at the sides, or splay more to the sides (they naturally separate and fall outward) it is worth looking for styles that have good side support.  This may be higher side coverage, or sides that have additional support such as seaming or boning.  If you have a smaller bust size and side spillage you can try a padded style that has the padding positioned more to the side, this can help push the breasts forward.

Side spillage at the side can also simply be due to the cup size being too small, so try increasing the cup size.

Bra Fitting Problem Breast tissue sidting e spillage - bra cup too small
Bra Fitting Problem bra cup too small

Bra Fitting Problem: Bra does not lie flat between my breasts

Fix: Check your cup size

This problem is more common in underwired sports bras where the centre ‘gore’ of the bra between your breasts does not lie flat against your chest.  The reason is usually due to an incorrect cup size.  If your cup size is too big the underwire can be too wide for your torso.  When your cup size is too small then it is impossible for the wire to sit flat against your chest, instead it sits on top of the breast tissue.

If your cup size is correct and you are still having this problem it may be the style of the bra that is not working for you.  Not every woman’s breasts are the same shape as a standard underwire. It is ok for the wire to be just a little bit away as long as it is comfortable.  For some body types it is impossible to find an underwire that will sit perfectly flat.  It may take a little trial and error to find a style that suits your shape.  Bra’s with softer / flexible wires can be a better option and bras without an underwire often solve this problem too.

Bra Fitting Problem: Underwire is sitting on top of my breast tissue

Fix: A bigger cup size

A well fitting underwire should follow the shape of your breast and lay against your ribcage, not on top of or poking into your breast tissue.  This can usually be solved by increasing your cup size.  If increasing your cup size causes too much room within the cup itself, it is worth trying a different style.  Some underwired sports bras use a ‘softer’ more flexible wire which you may find more comfortable.

Bra Fitting Problem Underwire on breast tissue - cup too small
Bra Fitting Problem Bra cup too big

Bra Fitting Problem: Cups feel too roomy/cups pucker

Fix: A smaller cup size

It is important for the cups of a sports bra to be a good fit to support your breast tissue, you don’t want your breast being able to move around within the cups.  If they do feel too roomy it is advisable to go down a cup size. Lots of ripples in the cup material can indicate that your breasts are not filling the cup.

Bra Fitting Problem: Chafing

Fix: Correct fit and different fabric

Chafing is unfortunately a common problem that women often suffer.  Painful, raw skin usually underneath your breasts where the breast and has rubbed.  The first priority is to ensure your bra is well fitting and the band isn’t too loose and moving around while you move. You also want to look for a bra that has a soft seam-free band to stop that friction.  A bra made of a soft moisture wicking material is also important to draw that sweat away while you work out.

Some women also suffer from chafing between the breasts.  In this instance it is advisable to find a style that separates your breasts.  Look for an encapsulation style bra that supports each breast in its own cup, rather than a bra which relies purely on compression for support as this often pushes your breast tissue together which can cause rubbing when the breast skin becomes hot and sweaty.

Bra Fitting Problem Chafing from bra
Bra Fitting Problem Bra strap slipping

Bra Fitting Problem: Straps keep slipping when I exercise

Fix: Racerback or straps that sit closer together

There are a few reasons that your bra straps may be slipping down during exercise.  The first thing to check is that they are tight enough.  Regularly washing and wearing your bras can cause the strap sliders to move, so its worth checking and adjusting these.  The band should carry the weight of your breasts, not your straps, but you do need to ensure your straps are tight enough to provide some support.

If your cups are a bit big and not filled properly this can cause your straps to feel looser.  If your band is too loose and moves up during exercise this will also create excess length in the straps, causing them to slip.  So it is definitely worth checking the overall fit of your bra to see if this is causing an issue with the straps.

Women all have unique shapes and so finding the right style of straps can solve this slippage problem.  If the height between your breasts and the top of your shoulders is short, you need straps that can be fully adjusted to be quite short in length.  Some women have narrow or quite sloping shoulders.  In this instance the straps need to be designed to sit closer together on your back.  Alternatively a racer back style bra, or straps that can be clipped together and converted to a racerback may be your best solution to prevent those bra straps from moving.

Bra Fitting Problem: Straps are digging into my shoulders.

Fix: Wider, padded straps

For some women, especially those with bigger breasts, taking off your bra can provide great relief to sore shoulders.  Tight and uncomfortable straps can cause a lot of pain, even indents in your skin.  Firstly you need to check that the band of your sports bra is snug enough to support your breasts, as the straps should just be adding to this support, not carrying the full weight of your breasts.  Then also check that your straps are not too tight, putting uneccessary pressure on your shoulders.

The reality for bigger busted ladies is that breasts are heavy.  Wider straps help to spread the weight load on your shoulders and prevent them digging in.  Some padding on the straps also helps to make them feel more comfortable.

Bra Fitting Porblem Bra straps too tight

Hopefully this has helped to solve some of your sports bra fitting problems.  If you would like further information or help in determining your size please visit our Fitting Room.  We are also available to help on live chat if you have any further questions.

Your in support.

Amy x

Amy Jaffers

Amy is the face behind Sports Bras Direct, Australia’s largest sports bra website. She's a mother of two, outdoors lover and sports bra expert. Her life mission is to help active women get the support they need as well as assisting women in need through her charitable donations.

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