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How Should a Sports Bra Fit, Banner Image

How Should a Sports Bra Fit?

Hi there, it’s Amy from Sports Bras Direct. Did you know that one of the most common reasons for breast soreness when exercising is poorly fitting support sports bras?

You can buy the most supportive sports bras online but if they don’t fit you, they’re not going to support you. Quite simply a sports bra needs to fit well to support well. Simple!

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Sports bras come with different levels of support and won’t always fit like your regular bra and there is a lot to check to find the perfect fit for you.

Fear not though as the effort is well worth the reward. Work through the points below and reap the reward. A great fitting sports bra. Comfortable and supported. Yay!

Read on.

Your Band Should Fit Snugly

Did you know 80% of the support provided by your sports bra comes from the band? As such, it should fit tighter than your everyday bra. It needs to if it is to offer the support required.

That said, it should not fit too tight. So how do we know when we have found the happy medium? Easy, the two-finger test! ‘The what-what test?’ you say.

The two-finger test. Simply, put your sports bra on a clasp that feels comfortable. You should be able to comfortably slide two fingers between the band and your chest.

If you can’t, the band is too tight. If you can slide more than two fingers, it is too loose.

Of course, this is not an exact science. But it does give you a gauge to go by.

Your Band Should Not Ride Up

As I mentioned earlier, fitting isn’t an exact science. As such it is good to have a couple of fitting checks up your sleeve to ensure the best fit possible.

The next thing to check is how the band sits across your back. You want your band to sit horizontal, giving a straight line parallel with the floor. It should sit level with the underside of your bust.

A quick check in front of the mirror will give you the answer you need. Horizontal, all good. Lifting at the back, not good. So, what is the cause and solution?

One cause could be that your shoulder straps are too tight. The pull from the straps can physically lift the back of the band. Check this first and adjust if necessary.

The most common reason your band rides up is your band size is too big. If your band is too big your natural tendency is to tighten the straps to firm things up. And yes, you guessed it, this ‘pulls’ the band up your back. Remember our first check?

Solution? Go down a band size, simple! And remember down a band size means up a cup size (assuming your cups fit). Confused? Check out my ‘Sports Bra Sister Size Guide’ for more.

Your Cups Should Not be Baggy or Wrinkly

You buy your new sports bra online. It arrives in the post. Exciting! You try it on. The band fits a treat, but your girls are swimming around inside the cups.

Standing in front of the mirror you can visually see gapping and wrinkling in the cups. This is a sure sign that your sports bra cups are too big. So, to stop breast movement your breast should fill all the cups. That is a perfect fit.

If it doesn’t. Then your cups are too big, and you need to go down a cup size.

Another thing to be aware of is time and exercise will take its toll on even the best support sports bras. Nothing lasts forever and inevitably your cups will stretch over time.

It is worth checking periodically how your sports bra looks and feels. The changes can occur slowly over time making you unaware that the fit is changing.

That said, your breasts are a good barometer. If you notice they are starting to feel sore after exercising it is likely an aging sports bra is the culprit.

Time for a new one!

Your Bust Should Not Spill Out

The opposite end of the spectrum now. Your breast tissue should not spill out from your sports bra cups. Not out the top. Not out the sides. Not out the bottom.

If it does, you have a problem. Any unsupported breast tissue can ‘wobble’ during exercise. No medium impact to high impact activities for you until this problem is solved!

Luckily the solution is easy. You guessed it, go down a cup size!

Remember all your breast should fill all your cup. Go down a cup size or two until your cups are perfectly full.

There Should Not be Gapping Between Cup and Breast

We touched on this in the previous point. But I have separated this particular issue as the solutions can vary.

We already know your breasts shouldn’t escape your cups. The whole point of a sports bra is to hold you up, not let you down! And if your breasts escape out the bottom of your cups they are certainly being let down.

If your cup is too tight it can ‘squeeze’ your breasts out the bottom of the cup causing gapping. This can be more of an issue if your bust size is larger. Solution, bigger cups! Following a reliable size chart should make this task easy for you.

Another cause of this issue is that your band size is too big. Thus, allowing your breasts to escape South of the border. Especially during exercise.

If this is the case, going down a band size will help keep the girls in their place.

Your Breasts Should Rest Against the Bottom of the Cup

This is the polar opposite to the above ‘should’. To feel comfortable and supported your breasts should fill the bottom of your cups.

If they don’t then there is nothing to be supported. Your band won’t be able to do its job (hold you up) and high impact sports will be out of the question.

As we already know the solution is to go down a cup size. But before you race out and buy a new compression sports bra online check the positioning of your breast within the cup.

It is common to ‘throw’ your sports bra on without positioning your breasts correctly within the cups. This is easily done by bending over and manually ‘scooping’ your breasts, so they sit balanced within the cup.

Not too low. Not too high. Just right!

You Should Not Get Back Bulge

One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘how do I get rid of my back bulge?’ Now back bulge may be something you just have to accept.

Sports bras are designed to fit tighter than everyday bras. So, if you wear a sports bra there is commonly some compression of the surface tissue. This can equal back bulge.

That said, if your sports bra is too small (particularly in the band) then it will dig in causing your skin to ‘bulge’ out.

Loosen the clasp setting first. If this fails, then go up a band size.

Your Straps Should Not Fall Down

This one is obvious. The remaining 20% of the support provided by your sports bra comes from the strap. So, if they keep falling down, they are failing to keep you up!

The number one cause of falling straps. They are too loose. Loose straps + bouncing boobs = falling straps.

Once again you can employ the two-finger test. Can you slide two fingers between the straps and your shoulder? Adjust the straps until they fit firmly and pass the two-finger test.

Falling straps can also be caused by big cups. The space within your cups allows your breasts to bounce. This in turn can cause your straps to ‘bounce’ off your shoulders with every upward movement.

Solution? You got it. Go down a cup size.

Unfortunately, that is not the end of the story. No matter how hard some women try they cannot stop their straps falling down. For them narrow or sloping shoulders could be the issue.

If this is you, consider a convertible or racerback style. This will anchor the straps to your shoulders preventing any possible slippage.

Your Straps Should Not Mark Your Shoulders

Nothing halts a workout in its tracks like shoulder straps digging in. OW! A sports bra exists to support you not to torture you!

This problem is made worse if you have a bit more up top. The extra weight of your breasts pulling on your shoulder straps can leave painful red marks on your shoulders.

We already know your straps offer 20% of your sports bras support with the band offering the remaining 80%. As such, there can be quite a bit of load through your straps if things aren’t fitting right.

Therefore, your first check is the band. Is it snug enough? If it isn’t the missing 80% can be transferred to your shoulder straps.

If the band is snug, consider your strap width. A sports bra with wider, cushioned straps will help spread the load helping to remove shoulder discomfort.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this article has helped you understand how a sports bra should fit. And will help you find the right sports bra for you.

The main focus of this article had been on the sports bra essentials, straps, band and cups. Get these three things fitting well and you are well on your way to the sports bra holy grail. The perfect sports bra!

If you find a problem, fear not. Buying a sports bra online is oh so easy. My advice is finding a tape measure and head to my fitting room to find your sports bra size.

Use our Sports Bra Finder to find your new sports bra. It’s as easy as one, two, three. One, select your size. Two, select your support level. Three, select your features. And boom your new sports bra will be revealed.

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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