Do I Need to Wear a Sports Bra During a Workout?

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We’re all about saving money when it comes to our workout clothes-after all, it’s hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on something you’re going to sweat in-but there are some workout basics you shouldn’t skimp on. Should sports bras be on that list?

Not wearing a sports bra is actually a common occurrence, especially in smaller-chested women who don’t think they need the flattening or sometimes uncomfortable support that sports bras provide. While others think a built-in shelf bra is enough for any workout, the truth is that the right support is essential during a workout, especially a high-impact one. “A huge number of women are experiencing some breast injury from tissue moving up and down or in and out during exercise,” says Susan Nethero, founder of the bra emporium Intimacy.

That’s because lack of breast support can lead to back pain and discomfort-including tissue damage that over time can cause stretch marks and sagging. And before you think that your B-cups have blessed you with the ability to skip the bra, think again. Even the smallest sizes can experience permanent damage to connective tissue over time if you neglect to give them the right support.

What’s the best way to avoid exercise-related breast issues? For one, always make sure you wear a sports bra, especially during high-impact workouts. For another, the right support is key. You should look for an encapsulation-style sports bra (that is, those with separate cups, which come in conventional bra sizes like 34B) over the uniboob compression kind. Since breast tissue moves in a figure-eight pattern when you run, walk, or jump, using a bra with cups will support you better. And while it may seem like one more exercise-related expense to invest in a few high-quality sports bras for your workout routine, it’s worth it to make sure you stay feeling your best during and after every sweat session. Check out more on how to choose the right sports bra here, and learn how to save money and time with this sports-bra-washing trick to use after every workout.

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Wearing a Sports Bra Alone When Running Okay?

A sports bra is a type of bra that provides control and support to the breasts when you work out. During running, jogging, brisk walking, a sports bra minimizes bounces so that discomforts and breast pains are prevented. Most of all, this type of bras contributes in delaying the sagging process. Sports bras have varying levels of control that are suited to the kind of physical activity: light control for brisk walks; medium control for jogging; and for more vigorous workouts like horseback riding and running, there are high control sports bras.

However, there are discussions as to whether or not wearing the sports bra alone when running is appropriate. There are women who are not in favor of it. They are just not into showing more skin and believe that sports bras are still bras, and should be worn with something over them.

There is no issue when it comes to men running shirtless. They can do it and their purpose is to get the breeze. Unfortunately, women do not have such option and have to wear the sports bras when working out.

Women who agree that you can wear the sports bra without a top give different reasons. For some, it is okay as long as the body is fit, the breasts are not too large, and the midriff is not bulging. Others say that you can do away with only the sports bras if you run on a beach as the temperature there is so hot and most of the people there are only in their sports bras. If you intend to go to a gym, you must know first if you will be allowed inside with only a sports bra and shorts or jogging pants. Some gyms require that you wear a t-shirt on top, especially if you have pierced belly button.

Most parents are agreeable to their daughters’ wearing sports bras sans the top when training and, if allowed, in races. In schools, they are required to wear a shirt over it, to prevent the unnecessary attention and remarks from the boys. Some say that younger girls can feel the heat and sweat faster than the adults, but others just naturally get hot. So, to wear or not to wear a shirt over a sport bra depends mostly on the wearer’s comfort.

Sports bras come in different styles, so you can choose the style that is suited for wearing alone. Some are designed especially to wear without a top over them, such as those that are colored, instead of white, and those that provide full coverage. Rule of thumb, it is OK to wear a sports bra alone as long as the sports bra provides needed support and does not invite second looks and comments by other people.

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Move over, Black Mirror, because I’m coming in hot with a truly haunting story. Picture, if you will, a Monday morning. You’re patting yourself on the back because you made it to your pre-work spin class instead of hitting snooze eight times. You hop out of your gym’s shower, your skin smelling faintly of a body wash that is definitely more expensive than the one in your shower. You’re feeling confident that today is going to be a great Monday. You go to get dressed… and you realize you forgot to pack a bra. The Lizzo playing through your headphones suddenly turns to the Psycho theme. There is, of course, no time to go home. In this hypothetical situation, Mercury is not in retrograde—you have no one to blame but yourself.

I am a person who has a substantial list of Things I Am Anxious About; after hearing that this happened to a friend I have added a “forgetting bra” scenario to that list. Because I am the kind of person who once left her car keys sitting on top of her car for hours, it’s both surprising that I have never forgotten my bra, and inevitable it will eventually happen to me. Seriously, what do you do? Put back on your sweaty sports bra, which began to go cold the minute you took it off? (It now feels like a clammy hand.) Go braless to work? Buy a new bra? Create makeshift pasties with the toiletries available to you? Call in sick because clearly nothing good can come of this Monday? This is a terrible game of Would You Rather?.

I’m not good under pressure so I’d probably just panic and put my sports bra back on, then use an entire stick of deodorant. I mean, wriggling back into a sweaty, clammy sports bra would be no fun, but there’s no way I could free boob it in an office/meeting setting. Especially when most offices insist on being freezing.

Every dermatologist ever has said that for the sake of your skin, get out of your sweaty clothes ASAP. It’s a real catch-22: braless in the office, or risk bacne. I asked Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, and founder of Dr. Loretta skincare, to weigh in. She told me that she recommends you get out of your sports bra within the hour. “The more time the skin is exposed to moisture, the more we see breakouts and/or yeast or fungus,” she says. “There’s surface bacteria and fungus trapped in that bra that can lead to breakouts.” She says that it’s probably best to go sans bra, to prevent breakouts. You may just have to spend most of the day with your arms crossed over your chest/ hide in a conference room. You could go buy a bra, if time/money allows. (If this were a choose your own adventure novel, I would not pick the buy-a-bra option. In part because I chose “writer” as a career choice so I can’t just be throwing money at my self-inflicted problems.)

“Wearing a sweaty sports bra for the rest of the day obviously isn’t the best idea, but it’s not the end of the world either.” —Sandra Lee, MD, aka Dr. Pimple Popper

Let’s say you have a C-cup and the shirt you were planning to wear to work is a cotton T-shirt. There’s really no hiding your nips/the fact you’re braless. And you have no time to get a bra before work. The stakes are high! The situation is dramatic! “Wearing a sweaty sports bra for the rest of the day obviously isn’t the best idea, but it’s not the end of the world either,” says Sandra Lee, MD, FAAD, FAACS, also known as Dr. Pimple Popper, founder of SLMD skincare. “If your bra is really moist or even soaked in sweat, aside from it being uncomfortable to wear, the material will be more occlusive and more likely to bind to your skin which can increase the risk of irritation, breakouts/pimples, or eczema. But I understand—if you must, you must.” Keep things as dry as possible, she says. In a pinch you could use a hair dryer or hand dryer to help dry out your bra before you put it back on. Genius! Placing cotton or tissue paper between your bra and your skin can be another way to minimize irritation, she adds.

Keeping a salicylic acid spray, like SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray ($38), in your bag is another way to help minimize any sweaty sports bra-induced bacne. (I can vouch for this, as I use her spray anytime I can’t immediately change out of my workout clothes.)

Phew. Now I have a plan of action in case this new addition to my anxiety list comes to pass. If only I could say the same for the one about my smoke detector doing the low-battery beep during the middle of the night.

Here are some musings on why granny panties are actually the sexiest underwear. And these eight bras can actually help with back pain.

No Sports Bra or Socks? How to Deal With Gym Wardrobe Fails

Uh-oh. So you showed up to the gym, ready to work out, only to discover that you forgot your socks. Or, even worse, your shoes! Before using this as an excuse to get out of a workout, see our solutions on how to hit the gym floor even when missing an essential piece of clothing!

Sports Bra

Forgetting your sports bra is enough to ruin any workout – I know, I’ve been there. Before you hightail it out of the gym, know that there are workouts you can still do (but others that should always be avoided). Keep in mind that lack of proper support from a sports bra can cause pain, elasticity loss, and stretch marks. Not a pretty sight, right? Wearing your regular everyday bra, choose low-impact activities that are not going to cause much, if any, bounce. Weightlifting, yoga, and walking on the treadmill are all good bets.

Gym Lock

While it may be tempting to leave belongings in a gym locker without the protection of a lock, don’t. Gym theft does happen, and when your stuff is stolen from an unsecured locker, most gyms will not cover the loss. While it may be annoying, bring your belongings with you onto the gym floor. Stash your bag next to the machine you’re working out on; if you’re taking a class, leave your bag against a wall where you can see it.

See how to handle forgetting your shoes, pants, or socks after the break!


Unless you are a seasoned barefoot runner, forgetting your shoes is a real pain. Shoes help to offer stability and support during workouts while also offering protection during weightlifting. Throw on a pair of socks and choose activities that don’t require a ton of ankle support or require your feet to move in a constant repetitive motion (like the treadmill). See if there are any group fitness classes that you can take like yoga, Pilates, and barre, where going barefoot is the norm. Another option is to wear the shoes you came in – if they are flats – and hop on a seated stationery bike or stair-stepper where feet remain still.


You showed up to the gym without your moisture-wicking socks; now what? If you are lucky enough to be wearing a regular pair already, you’re just going to have to be the girl on the treadmill in her trouser socks. But if you showed up in a pair of peep-toe wedges, sans socks, it’s time to change your strategy. While you can wear your shoes without socks, you’re likely to get blisters if you choose any sort of high-intensity workout – especially if you sweat a lot! To avoid stinking up your shoes and getting a bunch of blisters, choose to strength train for the day. Or, better yet, opt to take yoga.


Ack, no pants?! Unless you’re with a friend who packed an extra pair, go home. Working out in jeans, a skirt, or dress slacks is something that no one should ever have to experience! Once you’re there, change into your workout gear and relieve your stress with one of these home workout ideas.

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There are so many ways we can unintentionally injure ourselves when working out. A foot slammed onto an unsteady rock can lead to a twisted ankle, while lifting weights with poor technique can cause a pulled muscle. But there’s another way we can cause damage: by failing to adequately support our breasts.

When breasts aren’t properly supported during exercise they can bounce up to 21 centimetres, according to University of Portsmouth research led by Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr. However, according to a Google survey of more than 500 women, 40 per cent of Australian women don’t wear a sports bra while exercising.

With compelling reasons to pop on a sports bra before breaking into a sweat, the next question is which one to choose.Credit:

All that movement can lead to breast pain severe enough to be a real barrier to women exercising and can cause other negative consequences, such as altered breathing frequency and poorer sports performance.

Over time, inadequate support can also lead to saggy breasts, says Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Robert Drielsma. That’s because each breast is held in place by only two structures: the overlying skin, and underlying Cooper’s ligaments. Once stretched, these structures are less able to offer support, Drielsma explains, and the bigger your breasts, the more stress you’re applying to them.

I forgot my bra

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