You need a plus size sports bra if you are plus size and you are moving more than just walking from room to room. Sports bras support your breasts and minimize movement. Constant and vigorous movement can stretch the breast tissue which can lead to permanently sagging breasts.
A good fitting sports bra can be a big benefit to all women. In addition to supporting breast tissue against sagging, a sports bra can support the extra weight you carry in the front which will minimize the strain in your upper back.
Tips on Selecting Your Plus Size Sports Bra
Where to Buy a Plus Size Sports Bra
Many bra companies sell sports bras. For the most comfort and support look to companies who have designed a specialized sports bra for plus size women – such as Champion, Junonia, Lane Bryant and Enell (the so called “Oprah Sports Bra”). Avoid bras that are called “sports bras” that are just regular bras made in an absorbent fabric. They won’t have the support that you need during sports activities.
Selecting a Plus Size Sports Bra
Sports bras come in a wide range of support and styles. Some are compression bras, squeezing the breasts down against the chest wall. Other styles have a molded cup that is designed to hold the breast in a steady position. Some styles hook in the back, with some having more convenient front closures (e.g. hook front or zip front). To pick the best sports bra for you, read on and decide what features are key to meet your particular needs.
Determining Support Levels Needed
The amount of support you need depends on the type of activity in which you will be participating. Here’s a quick guide to determine the level of impact in several different types of activities:
- Low Impact – walking, yoga, weight training
- Medium Impact – fast walking, aerobics, skating, cycling
- High Impact – running, horse riding, baseball, basketball, soccer
Types of Sports Bras
There are two basic types of sports bras – compression and encapsulation:
- Compression-style bras are made from a very stretchy fabric that squeezes your breasts against your chest wall, creating what is often called a “uni-boob” look. They usually don’t have any closure system and must be pulled over the head, followed by tucking your breasts into a comfortable position. They typically provide good support for women with small to medium-sized breasts (e.g. sizes A through C). Compression bras with a racerback styling typically provide more support than a sports bra with straight straps.
- Encapsulation-style bras have separate cups, typically with underwire support. The fabric, construction and design make this a great sports bra for a woman with breasts with C-cups or larger.
Lingerie Versus Outerwear
Regardless of whether you choose a compression or encapsulation-style sports bra, some bras are designed as lingerie and some are designed with a little more coverage to be worn as activewear and outerwear. Although the fabric color and bra style is important to how the bra looks, be sure that you are selecting a sports bra that will provide the amount of support that your particular activity requires. Remember, if the sports bra is ugly, you can always wear a t-shirt; but, it will be a waste of money if it doesn’t have enough support!
Closure Type Is Key
Be sure to think long and hard about the closure system in the sports bra you select.
- A closure-less compression bra must be pulled on over the head. This style may not be the best choice for you if you have large breasts or mobility problems with your shoulders.
- Hook closure sports bras are readily available. Most have back hooks; but front hooks are sometimes available on larger sizes of encapsulation-style bras.
- Zip-front sports bras are great for small or medium-sized breasts but they can be difficult to close if you have larger breasts.
Whatever closure you select, be sure that there is fabric between the closure and your skin to avoid irritation and chafing.
How to Choose the Best Sports Bra for You
- Support – Be sure you choose a bra that has enough support for your planned activities and the size of your breasts. Faster activities and larger breasts require more support than slower activities and smaller breasts. Before you buy the bra, try it on and do some of the activity that you will be doing in the bra such as running or twisting.
- Comfort – It sounds basic to only buy a bra that is comfortable; but, many women forget that a bra that feels comfortable while standing still in a dressing room or in front of your bedroom mirror can become very uncomfortable with a little movement. Do some movement and give your sports bra a try-out. Make sure seams and fasteners are smooth and cushioned so that you won’t be chafed.
- Fit – A good fitting sports bra will stay in place. It won’t ride up when you move or shift left to right when you twist. The bra should stay in place and not chafe you as you move. A wide elastic rib band will help prevent your bra from riding up.
- Moisture Control – A sports bra should wick away moisture from your skin. Most sports bras are heavy in cotton which makes them very comfortable; but, with a little sweat, the all cotton sports bra could become very wet. Instead, look for a sports bra that mixes the comfort of cotton with a breathable man-made fabric that will wick the moisture away from your skin and let it evaporate.
One final tip: Sports bras are not cheap. Don’t buy multiple bras unless you have a history of good support, comfort, fit and moisture control. If your plan is to buy two sports bras (one to wear while the other is in the laundry), buy the first one and wear it for several workouts or sessions with your trainer. If it meets your specific needs, go buy the second sports bra.
There are many types of bras, each with a distinct purpose. GrandStyle has more information on other types of bras. Be sure you have a bra wardrobe for your various lifestyle and fashion needs.