First off: if you want your stretchy clothes to last, wash them on cold and let them air dry – hot water and dryer heat will break down the stretchy fibers much faster than just wearing them.
Now, on to the bra talk! Here are four tests you can do to tell if your sports bra has lost its zeal for life, therapist’s couch not required.
1. The Strap Stretch
Put on the bra in question and see if you can fit more than two fingers comfortably under the shoulder strap. If so…it should go. If your straps are always falling off of your shoulders, or the bra can slide up and down while you’re wearing it, it’s not doing its job.
2. The Cup Creep
If the bra passed the strap stretch, keep it on and bring both hands over your head. Did the band slide up to wear the cups go? Readjust the bra to where it goes, if needed, and bend forward as if to touch your toes. Did anything fall out? Failing either of these tests means it’s time for the bra to find a new purpose in life.
3. The Band Bird
Why did I name this test after a bird? Because I need you to flap your arms like a bird – just a couple of times, and no one has to see. If your bra slides up after a few arm flaps, send it south for the winter.
4. You knew it was coming….
If your bra passed all of these tests so far and you intend to wear it for running, Zumba, or any other activity that involves jogging or jumping, jump up and down 5-10 times and see if you notice any downward swing. (The bra itself might not move – it’s the contents that we’re checking on.) No bra will stop all upward motion (unless it’s constrictingly tight), but a bra that is still earning its keep will help things return to where they started, and no lower.
Why does it matter if your sport bra is worn out?
If your sports bra isn’t providing you with support and bounce control, your Cooper’s ligaments are – one of them can be replaced for $15-$20 when it wears out, and the other wears out once and for all when it goes. In addition to saggage, a supportive sports bra can help keep chafing and soreness away so that you can work out longer.
How old is too old?
There are numbers out there that recommend replacing your sports bras every 6-12 months, but it really depends on the construction of the bra, its initial fit (too-tight sports bras will be trash really fast because of all the stretching, so buy the size you need), how often you wear it, and how often you wash/dry it and at what temperature. These four tests should hopefully help you determine if your bra is still in the game, regardless of its calendar age.
What about yoga?
If you’re wearing your sports bra for yoga or sleeping and it fails these tests, feel free to hang on to it anyway – there’s no impact to worry about (although it would personally drive me nuts if my clothes moved around that much during yoga). However, if your bra fails these tests, I wouldn’t even wear it for a long walk.
And if you find out you need to replenish your workout gear…
Might I suggest one of these?