No, a sports bra does not have to have underwire to provide good breast support.  The main purpose of underwire is to provide shape for your breasts, not to support them.  Wearing a sports bra with underwire is a personal preference and not required for adequate breast support.

If your sports bra is wet with sweat after you have exercised in it, you should wash it because sweat will affect the elasticity of the bra’s material.  If your bra is not wet, you can wear it several times before you need to wash it.

To make your sports bras last as long as possible:

  • Hand wash your bras or place them in a “delicates” washing bag if you place them in a washing machine
  • Dry your bras by draping them over a drying rack – DO NOT peg them by the band on a clothesline because this will stretch the band
  • DO NOT put your bras in a clothes dryer because the heat will degrade a bra’s material.


If the underwire of your bra has pierced the encasing, you should NOT wear that bra anymore. It is time to let it go! To minimise this occurring:

  • Ensure the bra you buy has strong fabric covering the underwire and strong elastic material in the band
  • Wash your bra correctly. You are more likely to damage the underwire if you wash your bras in a washing machine (without placing them in a washing bag) or if you dry them in a clothes dryer.


Chafing is caused when your bra constantly rubs (moves) against your skin, usually during repetitive movement.  It is worse when you sweat (moisture and salts) and if you are older (less elastic skin). To minimise chafing:

  • Check your sports bra fits properly. The more your bra moves, especially if your bra is too big, the more it is likely to chafe you. 
  • Change the style of your sports bra. A sports bra that has soft smooth fabric on the inside of the band, non-abrasive or no seams, no hooks/fasteners/zippers in contact with your skin and is made of moisture wicking material can reduce friction between your bra and your skin.
  • Apply an anti-chafe product to your skin under your bra. Anti-chafe creams (even nappy rash creams) or sports tape/blister guards can form a protective barrier between your sports bra and your skin to reduce friction and, in turn, reduce chafing.

Your bra straps should only firm enough to not slip off your shoulders.  They should NOT BE uncomfortable or dig into your shoulders. Try one of these two steps:

  • Increase the length of your bra straps – they might be too tight.
  • Change the style of your sports bra.  Choose a sports bra with wide, padded straps.  You could also try a different strap orientation to what you are currently wearing (for example, change from vertical straps to racer back or cross-over straps).

There should be NO marks on your breasts when you remove your sports bra. Your breasts are soft and can be easily injured if they are squeezed into a tight or poorly fitting bra.  If you have red marks on your breasts or trunk, you need to change the style of your sports bra and ensure that it fits correctly.

You do not need to support the mass of your breasts when you are lying down.  So, there is no need to wear a bra to bed, unless you are advised to do so for medical reasons, such as following surgery.