For years, Dr Teoh Chin Sim, senior consultant and director of the Sports Medicine Centre at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, lived with the discomfort of wearing a regular bra when playing sports.
"As an active sports woman for most of my teenage and adult life, I was not aware that there were such things called sports bras, much less so about how to choose one," the 49-year-old sports physician told Mind Your Body.
"I suffered blisters on my chest from chafing because of the seams of my bra and I also had breast pain while jogging and jumping due to inadequate breast support."
Active women should not brush aside the need for a sports bra, she said, as they are designed to provide the breasts with extra support.
Without proper support, there might be pain, especially during high-impact activities, such as running and aerobics. There could also be chafing because a regular bra might not hug the body as snugly as a sports bra, for instance.
Just as importantly, breasts may sag prematurely without good support, particularly in women with larger breasts.
"Larger-breasted women are more prone to sagging with time and age because of the greater weight of the breast," said plastic surgeon Karen Sng, who practises at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.
"A good supportive sports bra helps to counteract this as it aids in supporting breast tissue during exercise and movement. It will help to delay the onset or reduce the degree of sagging," said Dr Sng. Wearing a sports bra, however, will not prevent sagging altogether.
Sports bras basically fall into two categories - compression bras and encapsulated bras. Compression bras flatten the breasts against the chest wall so as to minimise bounce. They are made of stretch fabric and have no bra cups.
Dr Teoh said these bras are more suitable for women with smaller breasts or those who engage in lower-impact activities.