Six top tips for choosing the right sports bra 

The advent of another year may well have prompted you to embark on a new fitness regime. You've signed up for classes, invested in some decent trainers and are ready to hit the gym. But chances are you're missing one of the most important pieces of exercise kit of all - a supportive sports bra. Scroll down to follow six expert top tips to ensure you get the perfect fit.

Choosing the right sports bra that is totally supportive and comfortable to wear is essential when doing any form of exercise - whether you prefer low impact yoga and pilates or high impact running and zumba. 

6 top tips for choosing the right sports bra

Freya Active Sonic Total Eclipse underwired sports bra, £38. Available in cup sizes B-H.

According to recent research, a staggering 44% of women who exercise regularly do not wear sports bras and 80% of women who do exercise are wearing the wrong size!

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However, according to recent research, a staggering 44% of women who exercise regularly do not wear sports bras* and 80% of women who do are wearing the wrong size!** This can not only prove very uncomfortable and painful when working out, leaving you unable to focus and get the most out of your workout, it can also have a damaging long-term effect.

Make your new fitness resolution to always exercise wearing a correctly fitted sports bra

Here's why you need this valuable support…

Ban the bounce

Research carried out by the Shock Absorber Sports Institute (SASI), found that, on average, a woman's breast moves as much as  9.08cm with every stride when running.

The Facts:

Breasts are made of soft, fatty tissue and are supported mainly by skin and fibrous strands called Coopers' ligaments. As these are not elastic, during repetitive or high impact sport, the breasts bounce and pull on the ligaments, forcing them to stretch.

With each running stride, breasts move not only up and down but also side to side and in and out, following a butterfly pattern. According to research carried out by the Shock Absorber Sports Institute (SASI) at Portsmouth University in the UK, on average a woman's breast moves 9.08cm with every stride when running.

No matter what your bust size, once the supporting ligaments have stretched they stay this way - causing your boobs to sag. Such action can also result in breast pain and upper back and shoulder problems. 

The Breast Health Group has found that breast pain or embarrassment about it, may be preventing as many as 50% of schoolgirls participating in sport.

‘The Breast Health Group has found that breast pain or embarrassment about it, may be preventing as many as 50% of schoolgirls from participating in sport’ 

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Choosing the right design

Encapsulate or Compress - which type is right for you? 

The Facts:

There are basically two different types of design when it comes to sports bras:

Encapsulation sports bras: These bras totally encapsulate the breast with individual cups that support each breast separately and minimise movement, reducing the chances of sagging. This type of design works best for a fuller bust, as it shapes and supports by encapsulating rather than compressing the bust. It also helps to give a more natural shape.

Encapsulation sports bras

Freya Active Atomic underwired moulded sports bra, £40. Available cup sizes B-H. ​ 

Compression sports bra

Nike Motion Adapt High Support Sports Bra, £47.95. Available in sizes XS-XL.

Compression sports bras: These bras typically pull over the head and compress the breasts against the chest wall to restrict movement. They usually do not have cups built into the design.

Some sports bras combine both designs into a supportive and comfortable style. These bras offer more support than compression or encapsulation alone, making them generally best for high-impact activities.

What key features to look for

Support from a sports bra comes from three main areas: the straps, the cups and the band (including side panel). Here's what to look out for in all three:



Sports bra straps

Freya Active Epic Total Eclipse underwired crop top sports bra, £40. Available cup sizes D-H

The straps of your sports bra shouldn't be too tight or dig into your shoulders.

Look for straps with minimal stretch. The less stretchy the front straps, the more motion control they will provide. 

Shoulder straps are better for larger bust sizes than a T-back design, as they distribute the weight better. They can also usually be adjusted which gives a more customised fit.



The cup should hold the whole breast - with no overflow.

The fabric should be smooth and wrinkle-free to be comfortable.

Sports bra support - cups

Freya Active Atomic underwired moulded sports bra, £40. Available cup sizes B-H


Band and side panels:

As the foundation of the bra, the band should fit flat against your ribcage and fit more snugly than your ordinary bra. If the band rides up at the back, it is either too loose or the straps need to be adjusted.

Look for a wide band with strong elastic to provide necessary support. 

Slide a finger under the band between your breasts. You should not be able to pull it more than an inch from your chest. If you can, it's too big and you need a smaller size. Similarly, reach your arms above your head if the band creeps up, again the bra is too big and isn't a good fit.

When it comes to finding the right bra for you,  Freya Active have these top Do's and Don'ts…


•Always get fitted by an expert to ensure you have the right size when buying a sports bra, as you need your bra to fit perfectly. You can find bra fitters at department stores or independent lingerie shops.

•Make sure you bra fits on the first hook. As it loses its elasticity over time, you'll need to tighten it.

•Pick high performance fabrics such as COOLMAX that wick away moisture to minimise chafing for more comfortable workouts. It is important to have lightweight, breathable fabric so as not to feel restricted when working out.


•Assume you will always be the same size in a sports bra as you are in a normal bra. Different styles and manufacturers will fit you differently, so always get yourself measured. 

•Think because you are doing a low intensity workout, you don't need so much support. Whatever the the type of exercise, fuller busts require high impact sports bras to reduce the movement during exercise.

•Tumble dry your bra - the heat will break down the technical fabric and can affect any underwiring. Hand wash your bra in lukewarm water and leave to air dry flat.

*Research carried out at by SASI
**A 2008 survey conducted by bra manufacturer Triumph and published in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy

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