You know what they say: “Running is the simplest sport, all you need is a pair of shoes” (and barefoot running fanatics would even disagree on that point). But it’s pretty clear that whoever said it was not female. Many women would argue that just as important as a great pair of shoes is a great fitting, supportive sports bra. To be able to run with confidence and freedom, and not suffer from chafing, bouncing or restricted breathing from a vise-tight bra is not something women runners can take for granted. Many of us are continually on the lookout for another great option!
Even if you have found an ideal sports bra, its lifespan is limited. Like your favorite shoes, general wear and tear will eventually cause your sports bra to wear out in about 6 months to a year. Other factors that contribute to bra breakdown:
You can often get away with doing a thorough hand washing rinse of your sports bra in between uses rather than putting it in the washing machine. If you do machine wash it, use a sports specific detergent (We carry 2toms and Nathan Power Wash) and a gentle cycle.
This is a big one! The dryer should never be used for your sports bra (or your shoes!) because the heat will degrade the elasticity of the straps and band (not to mention fabric softeners). Wrap your bra in a fluffy dry towel and squeeze to get most of the moisture out, then hang to air dry. Your bra will thank you!
The same high-tech fabric that makes your bra breathable and moisture wicking, can allow sunscreen, moisturizers or even body oils to accumulate in the material. Over time this can build up and decrease its performance (and increase its stinkiness!)
Are you a triathlete, or someone who loves the coverage and comfort of a sports bra for swimming? If so, the chlorine at your local pool, or even salt if you’re in the ocean, can shorten your bra’s lifespan.
Do you do a lot of track workouts, hill repeats, or long runs? More high-intensity wear puts the beat-down on your sports bra and it will wear out sooner than one that is worn for more low-impact activity.
Like shoes, a bra benefits from being in a rotation with a couple other bras. Three is a magic number when it comes to sports bras, giving you one to wear today, one ready for the next workout, and one in the laundry.
Even with the best of TLC, after being worn for about a year, you may notice the following changes in your sports bra:
When you first purchase your bra, it should fit snugly with the clasps at the largest setting. Over time you will need to move to the smaller clasp setting as the band material stretches. Once it doesn’t feel well-fitted at the smallest setting, it’s done!
As noted above, your bra’s band stretches over time. As it gets loose, you may start to notice chafing around your torso, especially right below the breast line.
Your bra straps may start to slip off your shoulders or no longer adjust in a way that feels right. This is another sign that the bra has stretched or worn and is ready to be replaced.
The material of the bra’s straps and band should be stretchy. If the fabric doesn’t give when you pull on it, it’s probably worn out.
Frayed edges or exposed clasps and underwire are kind of the equivalent of a hole in the midsole of your running shoe! It’s uncomfortable and potentially risks causing a break in your skin, especially on a long run or during warm weather.
So celebrate your own birthdays, but not for your sports bra! If your bra is more than a year old, or you notice any of the telltale signs of wear and tear, check out some of the awesome options that are available. You may even find a new favorite!
By: Susan Bix