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How to Choose Encapsulation Sports Bras and Compression Sports Bras

Fitness enthusiasts, professional athletes, and anyone looking to begin their fitness journey should know how much difference a sports bra can make when it comes to performance. Regardless of the size of your girls, a comfortable sports bra that provides sufficient support makes it easy for you to accomplish your physical activity goals.

Why Do You Need to Wear a Sports Bra?

A sports bra feels secure because it protects your chest from the impact received through repetitive movements common in high-impact workouts, running and playing sports. Forceful bouncing may cause damage to breast tissue and lead to back and breast injury. Not only that, but damage to the connective tissues can also make your tatas sag over time. Yikes!

That’s why you need to wear the proper attire when you know you’ll need a broader range of motion and you’ll be performing some high-intensity workouts. If you’re a runner, you need a perfectly fitting running bra. And no, plain tank tops won’t do. Remember, just because you bought a sports bra in your bra size doesn’t mean that it will provide you with the appropriate support for your activity’s intensity level.

What Do You Need to Look For?

Shoulder Straps – Most of us have experienced that painful shoulder and neck digging you get after wearing a sports bra for a while? Turns out, it isn’t just uncomfortable; it can be damaging as well. Wearing a sports bra with insufficient shoulder support can cause nerve damage over time. As well as referred pain to your back and neck. If you find yourself with a headache after a workout and you’re sure you aren’t injured or dehydrated. Then your shoulder straps may be the culprit.

So how do you fix it? Find a sports bra with shoulder straps that are wide enough and won’t roll as you move. If you’re buying your sports attire online, opt for adjustable straps. This allows you to adjust your straps to help get the perfect fit.

Underwires – Wires should never pinch or dig in. If your twins are particularly on the bigger side, underwires could irritate your skin and cause nerve damage to your rib cage over time.

Padding – Pads provide the wearer with medium support or high support when performing medium impact to high-impact workouts. If you’re looking for a high-impact sports bra, compression and encapsulation sports bras work best. We discuss more about them below.

Compression Sports Bras

These sports bras are designed to ‘compress’ the breast against the chest holding them in place to limit movement.  They do not have individual cups to separate the breasts.  All sports bras that have some stretch in the fabric (usually Lycra or spandex) offer a degree of compression.

Researchers have mapped breast movement during exercise and found that the amount of movement across different areas of the breast differs significantly.  The bio mechanics of breasts is actually very detailed as breasts move in three dimensions; up and down, side to side and in and out.  Compression sports bras primarily limit the in and out movement of breasts with secondary stabilization of upwards and sidewards movement. This secondary support, if insufficient (larger busted, high intensity activity) may cause strain on the delicate Coopers ligaments (supportive ligaments in the breast that help keep them perky!).

Things to consider:

  • Compression styles hug your breasts firmly to your chest.
  • Compression sports bras can minimise your breast projection.
  • More popular with women with smaller cup sizes.
  • Can be more suited to low and medium impact activities.
  • Can sometimes create a ‘uniboob’ look as they don’t support each breast separately.
  • Some women, especially larger breasted, can experience sweating and chafing with the breasts touching each other in a compression bra.

If you have a bit more up top and/or intend to wear during high intensity activity that creates greater breast bounce then this style may not be for you. If not then there are plenty of styles that will offer the support and comfort you need.

Encapsulation Sports Bras

These sports bras are designed to support each breast separately, much like an everyday bra.  (Although I must stress that the overall design of an encapsulation sports bra provides much greater support than your everyday bra which should not be used for sport). As each breast is individually supported, they provide a more natural overall breast shape as compared to compression sports bras.  Encapsulation sports bras can also reduce a greater range of overall breast movement and protect the Coopers ligaments helping prevent breast pain and sagging.  Some encapsulation sports bras do incorporate an underwire to separate each breast, however with advances in design this is no longer necessary and many sports bras can achieve the same results without an underwire.

Things to consider:

  • Encapsulation sports bras separate and support each breast individually.
  • Provide a more natural breast shape, with no ‘uniboob’.
  • Suitable for all cup sizes.
  • May suit low, medium and high impact activities, depending on the design (and your cup size!).
  • Greater reduction in breast movement than compression sports bras, but do not limit ‘in/out’ movement as much.

If you are bigger busted and intend to wear during high intensity activity then this style may suit. If you just want a bit more shape and individual breast support then give this style a go.

Compression and Encapsulation Sports Bras

Sports bras combining Compression and Encapsulation have cups to support each breast separately whilst having the added benefit of a design that also ‘compresses’ the breast against the body.  For higher impact activities the best advice is to wear a sports bra that incorporates both of these design features.  Combining both types of support in the one sports bra optimises breast movement reduction in all directions, this gives you the best of both worlds both in terms of support and comfort.

Things to consider:

  • Separates and supports each breast individually.
  • Technical fabric and design also compresses the breasts against the chest.
  • Reduces breast movement in all directions.
  • Optimum support and comfort for high impact activities.
  • Suitable for all breast sizes and very popular with bigger breasted women.

If you want the complete support package and you love high intensity activities then compression and encapsulation is a must for your next sports bra.

These aren’t your only options though; some varieties mix and match the best aspects of different types to provide you with the perfect fit to complement your fitness and activity level.

That’s where we come in.

Sports Bra Direct are the only online sports bra specialist in Australia. That means that no one else can give you the breast care you deserve to protect your precious assets! Try our sports bra finder today to get the best sports bra recommendation for your needs.

Yours 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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