Did you know that up to 8 in 10 women wear the wrong size bra? Crazy right? No wonder we can't wait to take our sports bra off as soon as we walk in the front door. Interestingly of that 80%, 70% wear sports bras that are too small. We try and squeeze ourselves into a smaller size in the hope it will support us more. Unfortunately, not so.
So, what are the tell-tale signs that you are wearing the wrong size bra? I am glad you asked! I have complied a list of the 9 signs to look for. Put on your favourite sports bra, stand in front of a mirror, and work through my list.
Sign One: Your band rides up
You put your sports bra on, and it feels good. Then during your workout, the band heads South. Or more accurately up! A definite indication that something is not quite right. But what? Your bra band should sit horizontal, under your bust. It is after all the foundation of your sports bras support. If it doesn't you have a problem.
It could be the shoulder straps are too tight effectively 'pulling' your bra up. Try loosening them a bit and see is that helps. If not, you are most likely wearing a bra band that is too big. If your band is too loose the weight of your breasts pulls your band up at the back. It's an easy fix. Simply go down a band size and see if that helps. Remember if you go down a band size you need to go up a cup size (assuming your cup fits well).
Sign Two: Your cups runneth over
Since we are talking cups you do not want yours too full. A good sports bra should support your whole breast. As such any breast tissue that 'falls' out of the top (or sides) of your sports bra is unsupported and can 'jiggle' during exercise. This is much more of an issue for those with a bit more up top.
The solution; go up a cup size. If your cups run over, you need a bigger cup! They should hold all of your breast keeping things in place whilst you exercise. You've got it right when there is no 'bulge' at the transition from bra to skin.
Sign Three: Your breasts do not fill your cups
This one is the opposite to the previous sign. If your breasts do not fill your bra cups you won't get the support you need. You do not want empty space in your cups. Your band isn't going to support you if there isn't anything above it to support!
Your breasts need to fill your bra cup comfortably and completely. If your breasts are swimming around inside your cups, they are too big. Go down a cup size or two. You want your breasts to fit snugly and wholly inside your bra cups.
Sign Four: Your breasts 'squeeze' out the bottom
This not only sounds painful, but it is also a sure sign of the wrong size. Your sports bra should hold the girls closer to your chin than your knees. Breasts tissue creeping out from under your bra band will put things closer to your knees! The right size sports bra should never let your breasts escape.
If this is you, the cause could be one of two things. More commonly is your bra band is too loose allowing your girls to escape out the bottom. Try tightening your bra band or consider going down a band size.
This can also occur when your cups are too small effectively 'forcing' your breasts out in all directions. Most commonly out the side and top but occasionally out the bottom. Either way simply go up a cup size.
Sign Five: Your back clasp is at its tightest
If you are putting a sports bra on for the first time it shouldn't fasten comfortably on the tightest hook. It may fit great now but as your bra inevitably stretches over time it will not allow you to take up that stretch with adjustment. Ideally a new bra should fit well on the loosest hook allowing you to tighten up as things stretch. Thus extending the life of your sports bra.
If your new bra fits comfortably on the tightest hook, consider going up a band size. Seems counter-intuitive but it will allow you to get the most out of your sports bra. Eventually your band will stretch to its limit. When this happens, it is time for a replacement.
Sign Six: Your bra band gives you back bulge
Ahhh, the dreaded back bulge! Bulging over your bra band is an extremely common problem many women experience. The problem here is often with sizing not style. Quite simply your bra band is too tight.
Your bra band needs to be snug to offer you support but it shouldn't be too tight. A general rule is you should be able to slide two fingers under your bra band when it is done up comfortably. If you can't it is too tight, and you need to either loosen it or go up a band size.
Sign Seven: Your band gaps in the back
The opposite to the above is when your band sits away from your body at the back, it gaps. You band should fit snugly and comfortably across your back (remember the two-finger rule?). If it gaps or feels too loose it will not give you the support you need.
A simple solution it to tighten the band to another clasp setting. But remember not too tight on a new bra. Alternately go down a band size for a snugger fit and no gapping. And remember, down a band, up a cup!
Sign Eight: You get strap marks on your shoulders
We've talked a lot about bands and cups. It is now time to talk straps. And the number one issue relating to straps is strap marks and the associated pain. A sports bra should be comfortable not a torture device. This can be more of a problem for larger cup sizes. Bigger boobs = more weight = sore shoulders!
A common solution many women employ is to tighten their straps further in the hope they hold everything still during a workout. Given only 20% of sports bra support comes from the straps (the other 80% from the band) this isn't the best option. As such a snug fitting band is often the solution. It will help take the strain off your straps. Also consider a bra with wider straps to help spread the load.
Sign Nine: Your straps fall down
Bra straps help hold you up so when they slip, they let you down. If your bra straps slip during a workout it is almost always due to them being too loose or having stretched over time. You should check your sports bra straps before every workout and adjust if necessary. If adjusting them doesn't work, it is time to get a new sports bra.
Loose straps can also be a sign of the cups being too big. If your breasts don't fill your cups, they can cause your straps to also sit loosely as they have nothing to hold up. If this is the case, go down a cup size. If you have narrow or sloping shoulders, you may find nothing helps. If this is the case, consider a racerback or cross-back style of bra. This will help anchor the straps to your body.
So, there you have it, my 9 signs you are wearing the wrong size sports bra. At the end of the day, it is all about fit and comfort. If it doesn't fit it won't be comfortable and support will be compromised.
Check your sports bra when you first buy it and regularly throughout its life to ensure it is and remains the correct size. If it isn't up to the task it is time to go shopping and a specialist sports bra website is a great place to start. Sites like Sports Bras Direct not only offer a great range of sports bras but also an awesome amount of information and advice!