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Can You Wear a Normal Bra When Playing Sports?

by Lindsay Haskell

About Lindsay Haskell

Lindsay Haskell enjoys writing about fitness, health, culture and fashion. She is a contributor for "Let's Talk Magazine" and "The Wellesley News." Haskell is completing her B.A. in philosophy at Wellesley College. She's also a fiction writer whose work can be read online.

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If you're trying to decide whether to play sports or work out wearing a normal bra, the safe answer will always be "no." A regular bra does not give your breasts enough support to prevent them from bouncing and moving during sporting activities. Too much bouncing can cause pain and tissue stretching. It's best for the female athlete to wear a sports bra that compresses the breasts and minimizes their movement during physical activity.

The Problems with Normal Bras

A woman's body does not naturally support the breasts during movement. A regular bra cups, rather than compresses and constrains, your breasts. Without compressing your breasts, the bra will not prevent them from bouncing and moving during physical activity. This movement causes tissue and ligament stretching, leading to pain and long term breast problems, including sagging. Playing sports in a regular bra could also strain your back and leave it sore the next day.

Sports Bra Benefits

Ligaments and tissues support your breasts, but during physical activity those ligaments and tissues cannot provide enough support on their own. Sports bras use compression to constrain the breasts and minimize movement while playing sports. A sports bra lifts and binds your breasts to your body, so the weight doesn't hang and pull on your back. Sports bras are specifically designed for athletes, and made to reduce breast discomfort while properly protecting and supporting the breasts. Wearing a sports bra is the most effective way to protect your breasts during sports.

Choosing the Right Bra

Before you buy a sports bra, try it on and jog around or jump up and down to make sure it compresses your breasts so that you feel little or no movement. The two types of sports bras are compression sports bras and encapsulation sports bras. Smaller busted athletes should consider the compression bra, whereas the encapsulation bra works better for larger-breasted athletes, thanks to its firmer construction. Be sure to measure around the fullest part of the bust and also just under the bust line to determine the proper cup and band size.

Support Vests

In addition to sports bras, built-ins, also called support vests or support tanks, offer more support than normal bras for playing sports. A built-in is an athletic tank top or vest that has a built-in sports bra. Some built-ins have compression bras and some have encapsulation bras. All the support should come from the built-in bra, because the tank top alone doesn't provide much support.

Photo Credits:

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.