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When Should You Replace a Sports Bra?

A woman putting on a shirt over her sports bra
A woman modeling a Brooks sports bra

Do You Know When to Replace Your Sports Bras?

You know how to choose running shoes based on your foot shape and running habits, and you know exactly how long those shoes will last. But when is the last time you thought about replacing your sports bras?

New bras will give you the best comfort and support during your runs and workouts. Straps will be stronger, elastic will rebound better, the fabric will breathe easier. But as they age, your sports bras wear out just like your running shoes. When that happens, they quit supporting you the way they're supposed to, and it can quickly turn a good run into a bad run.

So, you need to replace them. Here’s what you need to know:

What Causes a Sports Bra to Wear Out?

Sports bras save your breasts from being strained—or even injured—by repetitive bouncing and movement caused by running, but that energy gets transferred into the bra’s support system. The bra stretches and contracts as it absorbs the impact, and over time the fibers, elastic and other components weaken, which compromises support.

Here are some other things that wear your bra out:

  • Washing machines. The more you wash your bra, the faster it breaks down. Try to wear your bra more than once between washes (if it doesn’t smell too bad) to prolong its life.
  • Clothes dryers. High heat from a clothes dryer can ruin your bra’s elastic band, which is the most supportive part. Always hang them to dry.
  • Body oils. Oils from your body can clog up the fabric of a bra, making it less breathable. Make sure you know how to wash your sports bra properly to keep it running in top shape.
A woman wearing a pullover sports bra

How Long Does a Sports Bra Last?

We get it: You love your sports bra. It’s supportive, comfortable and cute. It got you through your first race or your latest marathon, and it wasn’t cheap. But choosing the right sports bra and buying a new one will keep you comfortable as your next training cycle starts.

Sports bras should be replaced about every six to 12 months, depending on how much you use them and wash them. If you notice a decline in support, it’s time to go shopping.

How to Know Your Sports Bra is Worn Out

  • Straps sliding. If the straps of your bra are sliding around, coming off your shoulders during exercise or you can’t adjust them like you want to, they’re likely worn out.
  • Chafing around the band. Your bra’s band will stretch out and loosen as it ages. If you start to experience chafing around your midsection, it could be because the band is moving around as you work out.
  • Color changes. Has your light-colored bra turned yellow-ish? Has the color faded or dulled? It’s time to buy a new bra if your current rig undergoes a noticeable color change.
  • Fraying. Frayed edges or exposed clasps can lead to irritation and are another sign that it’s time to replace a bra.
  • Worn out elastic. Tug on the straps and the bottom band. If they don’t rebound or you don’t feel any resistance, it’s past its prime.

Looking for a simpler approach? Brooks puts it this way: No sports bra should celebrate a birthday.

So, throw out those candles and ditch the cake. It’s time to get fit for a new sports bra.

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