How Often Should You Replace Your Sports Bra?

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October 11, 2022

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Trying to find the right sports bra for your body shape and preferred training style can be enough of a challenge, especially if you’ve got a large bust, plus-size figure, or have any scar tissue from breast surgeries. But something just as important as finding the perfect fit is knowing how often you should replace your sports bra, and the answer might surprise you (it did for us!).

The general rule of thumb

For sports bras that are getting a fair amount of wear, it’s generally best to replace them after a year. Depending on several factors such as how often you work out, how much you sweat and how you wash them, you might get slightly more, or significantly less, life out of your bras. Here’s a helpful guide so you know exactly what to look (and feel) for. 

Signs you need a new sports bra 

Feeling bouncy or sore

The whole point of a good sports bra is to support and hold your breasts in place, reducing the amount of breast bounce while you exercise. According to Sports Medicine Australia, research has shown that during activities like jumping and running, unsupported breasts can move up and down as much as 12 cm, which is often associated with discomfort, pain or feeling self-conscious.

The first obvious sign you need a new bra is exactly that - you’re experiencing significant breast bounce, a decline in support, or pain in your breasts during or after your workout. This can be particularly noticeable if you’re completing HIIT workouts or running

A bra in good condition will prevent your breasts from moving too much by compressing them against your chest and absorbing any impact, but the fabric, fibres and elastic will stretch and weaken over time, putting the kind of bounce in your step that none of us want.

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Stretched beyond return

This takes us to the second sign - your bra is out of shape. When you put your bra on, the bottom band should be firm around your torso without any ripples or baggy areas. A lot of the support comes from this band, so it should have some resistance in it when you give it a tug and snap back when you let go. 

The cups or front section of your bra should sit firmly against your skin to offer compression, so if you’ve lost weight or had breast surgery (or you simply bought the wrong size) and your bra is gaping at the front, you might need to be refitted, too. 

If your shoulder straps are adjustable but are now easily slipping, or they’re non-adjustable and have stretched to the point where you no longer feel supported, you know what to do. It’s time to get yourself a new one. To test the straps, try pulling on them when your bra is on. Just like the bottom band, you should feel some resistance and they should snap back into place.

Feeling wired?

For sports bras with an underwire, make sure the wire is holding its shape and isn’t bent or poking out of the fabric or into your body. Ouch.

Stains and smells

Sure, you might be able to easily hide a sports bra underneath a singlet or t-shirt, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to hang onto a bra if it’s still holding onto funky stains and smells even after washing as this can mean increased levels of bacteria and risk of infection. You also may need to replace your sports bras more regularly if you’re someone who sweats a lot.  

Been wondering how often you should wash your activewear? Check out our tips here!

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How to extend the life of your sports bra 

Good sports bras aren’t always cheap, nor is it good for the environment to be regularly throwing out clothes, so it makes sense to look after your activewear as best as you can by following these tips:

  • When you buy a sports bra, always check the tags for the care and washing instructions 

  • Machine wash your bras on cold setting as heat can damage the fabric and fibres

  • Avoid putting sports bras in the dryer for the same reason and always air dry your bras

  • Every wash will reduce the life of your sports bra, so if you don’t sweat very much, try to get more than one wear out of your bra before you wash it

  • Wash your bras in a laundry bag to protect them 

  • If you find your bra straps often stretch, buy one with adjustable straps so you can tighten them rather than needing to buy a new bra 

  • Avoid using fabric softener

  • If you’ve got a big bust, try to get fitted or ask the retail staff which bra would be best for the type of training you do and your body shape 

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Ready for your first workout?

A good-fitting sports bra can make or break your workout, so it pays to know how to look after them and the signs that indicate you need a new one. Get yourself a great sports bra and boost your fitness without all the bounce!

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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