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Sports Bras
Style, Encapsulation & Support


Bra types are Compression Bras (recovery), Comfort Bras (treatment), Fashion Bras (everyday, work and special occasions), Sports Bras (activity) and Lymphoedema Bras (treatment and management).

This section describes Sports Bra anatomy. See other sections for other bra anatomy descriptions.


Cleavage   The extent of upper breast cover and enclosure. A higher cleavage more fully encapsulates the breast, reducing up-and-down and side-to-side movement. Mild elasticity along the cleavage line holds the top of the bra to the chest.

Underarm Band   The extent of underarm coverage. A wider underarm band can improve wear comfort and support by distributing pressure more evenly. When it fully covers the side of the breast it acts to compress the side of the breast against the chest, reducing side-to-side movement.

Back Band   The extent of back coverage. A wider back band can better contain back tissue, improving support and wear comfort.

Shoulder Strap Width   The width of the strap over the shoulder. A wider strap can improve wear comfort and support by distributing the weight of the breasts across the shoulder.

Shoulder Strap Spacing   Where the strap is likely to sit on the shoulder. As spacing increases, the strap sits further out on the shoulder. Shoulder width also affects where the strap sits on the shoulder. For example, a wider strap spacing on narrower shoulders can mean the strap is more prone to slipping off the shoulder.


Material   A mix of synthetic (elasticised) yarns is typically needed to provide compression.

Underwire   Rigid shaped wires sewn into the underside of the cups to shape and separate the breasts and vertical wire or plastic ‘stays’ sewn into the underarm band to stiffen the band. Research suggests underwires and stays do not significantly increase support but can create lines of pressure that affect lymph flow.

Non-Underwire   A bra cup made without underwires but that may have flexible plastic stays.

Cup   A shape that lifts and compresses the breasts against the chest wall to reduce breast projection can reduce spinal load and lessen front and back breast movement and breast tissue tension. Side of cup reinforcement can work with the underarm band to reduce sideways breast movement.

Pocketed Cup   A bra with a layer of material sewn inside the cup to create a pocket to hold a breast form. Pockets do not affect wear with a natural or reconstructed breast.

Band   Strong, elasticised material that wraps around the chest, underarm and back to stabilise the bra, support breast weight and hold the bottom of the cup firmly against the chest. It should not ride up when arms are raised or curl up when squatting, bending or sitting.

Straps   Support the top of the cup, lifting the breast up and into the cup. A wider strap distributes breast weight more evenly across the shoulder. Padding over the shoulder reduces up-and-down impact. An elasticising portion of strap at the rear acts to keep the strap in contact with the shoulder and absorbs up-and-down impact. Strap type tends not to affect shoulder load but cross-over or racerback styles can prevent slippage when active.

Fastening   Typically hook-and-eye clips located at the back or a front zip. The number of clips provided for fastening tends to increase with band size.

Adjustment   Hook-and-eye clip fasteners in the band typically provide multiple clip adjustment positions. Zip fasteners do not allow for adjustment and, if not underlain with a start clip, can be more difficult to use. Straps typically have a sliding buckle adjustment.


Moisture   The capacity of the material to absorb sweat and then release it to the atmosphere. Test outcomes typically show ‘high to low’ or similar rating. Generic terms such as ‘breathable’ do not quantify performance.

Free from Harmful Chemicals (Latex)   When the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Logo is shown on the garment label it indicates that the ‘finished garment’ has been tested and given an OEKO-TEX Certificate. Generic terms such as ‘OEKO-TEX materials’ do not verify ‘chemical free’ status.

Links & Information

STUDIO RANGE Products   Go to Sports Bras, click on a product to see ‘Style’ and ‘Look & Feel’ information, then click on the ‘Fitter’s Notes’ tab for more product information.

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