What Happens When You Don't Wear A Sports Bra When Working Out

Your clothing is an important factor to consider when you exercise, especially if you plan to sweat, run, or stretch. Many people opt for tops and bottoms that offer compression, breathability, and moisture-wicking qualities, or they'll buy a garment primarily for the brand name, but women have one more article of clothing to consider: the bra. Some women wear the same bra they wear when they're not working out while some wear a sports bra. Others set the girls free and wear nothing at all under their shirts.

Choosing to forgo a bra during exercise may very well be liberating, and some women may consider a bra unnecessary if they don't have large breasts. This may be true for low-impact exercises that don't involve any type of jumping, but going braless during high-impact activities, like running, isn't such a good idea. Wearing a non-supportive sports bra can also be risky.

It can cause pain or discomfort

Whether you're running, jogging, or doing any type of jumping, your breasts are obviously going to move around, thanks to gravity. Sports bras help to keep the breasts in place and offer support during high-impact exercises. There are three main types of sports bras: The kind that compresses the breasts, the kind that encapsulates them, and the kind that does both, as Bare Necessities explains.

So what happens if you don't wear one at all? If you're doing yoga or any other low-impact activity, not wearing a bra shouldn't be a problem — although there are many low-impact, comfortable sports bras you can wear. But with activities that involve impact on the feet and joints, it's a different story, especially for large-breasted women. Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Fortis Hospital Dr. Nupur Gupta spoke with Health Shots on the topic.

"Rapid movement of breasts causes discomfort and that's why it is always recommended to wear a sports bra while exercising," she said. This discomfort comes in the form of back pain or neck pain, and of course, the breasts themselves can hurt.

It can change the appearance of your breasts

Like many other parts of the body, breasts have ligaments. They're called Cooper's ligaments, named after the doctor who first described them in 1840, as Healthline explains. These bands of fibrous tissue support the breast and give them their round, lifted shape while connecting to adjacent tissue around the chest muscles.

Cooper's ligaments stretch with age, which can change the shape of the breasts, resulting in a sagging appearance. But Livestrong.com claims that repetitive high-impact exercise without the support of a sports bra can put strain on the Cooper's ligaments, which can cause the breasts to sag prematurely.

Another potential change in the appearance of the breasts as a result of not wearing a supportive sports bra during exercise is stretch marks. Dermatologist at the Skin Institute of New York Dr. Anna Karp told HuffPost that "working out without a sports bra, for long periods of time only increases your risk for stretch marks." Without support, gravity pulls the breasts down every time you jump. The larger the breasts, the stronger the pull. The stronger the pull, the greater the chances of stretch marks.

Regardless of the size of your breasts, it's best to wear a supportive sports bra when you do any type of high-impact exercise to prevent discomfort, damaged Cooper's ligaments, saggy breasts, and stretch marks.