Breast Health Research

Bra fitting

Over 70 per cent of women are reported to be wearing the wrong bra size – this is no surprise considering how confusing the bra sizing system can be!

Watch our collaborative video with Sweatshop on the importance of accurate bra fitting 

It is really important that women of all breast sizes are wearing appropriate and correctly-fitted breast support for everyday activities as wearing the correct bra size will improve your general health and well-being. However, appropriate breast support is especially important when exercising. We have found that breasts move an average of 10cm in 3 directions (up and down, side to side and forwards and backwards) during running, which can often lead to breast pain.

Sports bras are effective at reducing breast movement (we found an encapsulated sports bra reduced breast movement by up to 73% compared with bare-breasted running) and can therefore reduce breast pain caused by excessive motion.

There is a lot of choice out there but this does not mean that you should not be able to find a style and size of bra that suits you for both everyday and sporting activities. A tape measure can help you on your way to finding the correct bra size; however you will also need your own judgement. Remember, like clothes, you will not be the same bra size in every shop!

We recommend that you follow these 5 simple steps to achieving correct bra fit:

1) BAND - The band should fit firmly around the chest. It should not slide around as you move, but it should not be too tight to be uncomfortable, affect breathing or make flesh bulge over the band. The band should be level all the way around the chest.

2) CUP - The breasts should be enclosed within the cups, with no bulging or gaping at the top or sides. If the cup material is puckering then the cup size is probably too big.

3) UNDERWIRE - The underwire should follow the natural crease of the breasts and not rest on any breast tissue (in the centre, underneath the bra or under the arms). If the underwire is resting too far down the ribcage (i.e. where the ribcage gets slightly narrower) the band size is probably too small.

4) FRONT - The front of the bra (the lower edge under the breasts and between the cups if a separate piece exists) should sit flat against the body and not gape away from the chest. If the front of the bra is lifting away the cup size may need to be increased.

5) STRAPS - The shoulder straps should be adjusted to comfortably provide breast support without being too tight (i.e. digging into the skin). The main support for the breast should come from a firm band, not tight shoulder straps.