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Nobody likes being poked and prodded by superfluous underwire, so why clasp on a proper bra if you don't have to? Some experts claim there's nothing wrong with going au naturel, but if you are craving some extra support, a sports bra can be a happy medium. Not only is it an underwire-free way to support your girls, but it's versatile enough to wear to a workout and Netflix marathon.
At first glance, wearing a sports bra all day, every day seems like a good idea. Some hypothesize that wearing a sports bra may help maintain the shape of your breasts (by preventing sagging or drooping) and absorb sweat, thanks to its workout-friendly, moisture-wicking material. However, wearing a sports bra 24/7 isn't all it's cracked up to be. We chatted with experts to explain why.
RELATED: How to Measure Your Bra Size at Home
The Pros: Sports Bras Are Comfy and Offer Great Support
There's a reason why sports bras are the preferred undergarment for intense activities like running, cycling, or virtual aerobic classes. Available in three types of impact—low, medium, and high—sports bras are specifically designed to keep jiggling at bay. In fact, that packed-in feeling offers more than comfort. You know how your breasts bounce when you're working out and not wearing a supportive sports bra? Research shows that that movement can slowly whittle away at your connective tissue, which ultimately makes up the shape of your breasts.
"Our breasts are made up of ligaments and tissue," explains Jené Luciani Sena, bra expert and author of The Bra Book. "Over time, that movement of going up and down contributes to the stretching in that area. Most women don't want to have saggy breasts; not only for aesthetic reasons but for comfort, too. It can be painful!"
Of course, supporting your breast tissue is only one part of the equation. According to John Paul Tutela, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon, wearing a bra (sports or otherwise) can keep your skin from stretching.
The Cons: They're Often Too Tight to Wear for Extended Periods
Sometimes it's possible to have too much of a good thing, and wearing a sports bra is no exception. The problem is that many sports bras are too tight, and this has been known to weaken back muscles, cause shoulder pain, and wreak havoc on your posture. (Scary, right?)
"It's never good to wear something that's too tight or constricting all day long," Luciani Sena says, adding that ultra-constricting bras press on your lymphatic system. While Luciana Sena classifies it as an "unproven myth," some studies claim that extra pressure is linked to cancer.
And believe it or not, wearing your sports bra all day can lead to skin issues. "Any tighter compressive garment that isn't taken off can lead to some irritation such as a rash and even a fungal infection," Dr. Tutela says. "Any bra that's too tight can lead to skin irritation, so I definitely recommend being sized correctly."
Bottom Line: Don't Wear a Sports Bra All Day
Since wearing a tight sports bra for prolonged periods of time, like an entire day, can have some harsh consequences, it's a good idea to give your boobs a break.
Luciana Sena says that a snug, high-impact bra should be taken off after your workout and swapped for a looser style. So instead of wearing a compact, tight-fitting sports bra from nine to five, switch over to a soft wireless bra or bralette which are more ideal for long-term wear and lounging.
"There is a whole new category called lounge bras," she explains. "From a comfort standpoint, you'll want to reach for a lounge bra as opposed to a standard sports bra."
It doesn't matter if it's a sports bra or traditional clasp style, you should avoid wearing any type of bra that's too tight. To keep your breasts supported and your body comfortable, Luciana Sena recommends zeroing in on fit. "Anything that's digging in or poking you anywhere is a good indication that it's too tight," she explains. "The straps are only supposed to be 10 percent of total support, so if they're leaving any indents or causing any pain, they're doing more work than they're supposed to, and it's likely the band isn't doing enough work."