HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT RUNNING SPORTS BRA?

Best Sports Bras of 2021

Best Sports Bras of 2021

Did you know 80% of women wear the wrong bra size, but it doesn’t have to be this way. From support, to fitting and construction – here’s what you need to know to pick the best sports bra for running need…

Why is it important to have a good sports bra for running?

The unique motion of running causes your breasts to move in a figure of eight motion, sometimes up and down as much eight inches. This puts your Cooper’s ligaments – the thin collections of connective tissues that help support your breasts – under huge strain. Without the correct support, you’re likely to experience soreness and could cause lasting damage.

Sports scientists from the University of Portsmouth studied how breast tissue is damaged when running, in regular bras and a variety of sports bras. They found low to medium impact sports bras reduce bounce but are not effective for restricting the side-to-side movement that occurs when running.

 

In fact, their research shows that women change the way they run depending on the type of bra worn. So not only will a good sports bra provide you with vital support, it could help you to set a new PB too.

Running Sports Bra

What Level of Support do i need?

Sports bras offer three different levels of support: low, medium, and high impact. The type you need depends on your cup size and the type of exercise you aim to do. Below we have broken each section down, to give you a better understanding what each level has to offer.

LOW-MEDIUM IMPACT SPORTS BRAS

Low impact activities: Walking, yoga, strength training.

Medium impact activities: Dancing, skiing, cycling.

Construction: Low-medium impact sports bras typically feature a cup-less design and restrict movement by compressing the breasts tightly against the chest wall. 

HIGH IMPACT SPORTS BRAS

High impact activities: Running, aerobics, mountain biking.

Construction: High impact bras are made with a defined cup structure – akin to regular bras – to encapsulate and support each breast. Some high impact bras will use a combination of both encapsulation and compression methods to maximise support.

Sports bra fitting guide

Step 1: Rib cage measurement:  Measure around your rib cage, just beneath your breasts. The tape measure should be snug, but loose enough that you can fit two fingers underneath. Round down to the nearest full inch.

Step 2: Use the table below to find your corresponding band size based on your rib cage measurement.

Rib cage Band size
25″ – 27″30
27″ – 29″32
29″ – 31″34
31″ – 33″36
33″ – 35″38
35″ – 37″40
37″ – 39″42
39″ – 41″44

 

Step 3: Bust measurement: Measure around the fullest part of your breast. Again, the tape measure should be snug but not so tight that it restricts breathing.

Step 4: Subtract your rib cage measurement from your bust measurement. The difference is your cup size. If you’re in between sizes, round up. 

Difference in cup size Your cup size
3AA
4A
5B
6C
7D
8DD
9E

An alternative to steps 3 and 4: Try a few different cup sizes for fit. Cups should fit without gaps or wrinkles, they should feel snug and secure but shouldn’t be so tight that your breasts spill out the side or over the top of them.

Heart Rate Monitor for women

Tips for getting the perfect fit

Even once you have you have your measurements, finding the right sports bra can be tricky and usually requires you to try a few different sizes and brands. Here are some tips for getting the perfect fit…

Snug, but not too tight: A sports bra should fit tighter than a regular bra but shouldn’t restrict breathing; you should be able to fit two fingers between the straps and your shoulders.

Wrinkles are bad: The fabric of the cup should be smooth. Wrinkles in the fabric are usually an indication that the cup is too big. Conversely, if you’re spilling out of the cup, it’s too small.

Watch out for gaps: Any underwire should lay flat against the rib case, below your breast tissue, and should not pinch or dig in.

Adjust the straps: Raise your hands up over your head. If the band rides up it’s usually a sign it’s too big, though it is possible that the straps or the back closure may need adjusting.

Move around: Before buying your bra, jump around and swing your arms – (it’s probably best to do this in the changing rooms or somewhere else other people can’t see you). If you experience pain or discomfort, then try another sports bra.

How long does a sports bra last?

A sports bra will last around 30-40 washes, but the technical fabric will loosen with each cycle, making it less effective.

To give your bra a longer lifespan wash in cold water, avoid fabric softener and bleach, and do not tumble dry as heat will accelerate the elastic degradation. Instead, dry it flat and if your sports bra starts to rub or chafe invest in a new one. 

Our recommended Running Sports Bra is:

Without a doubt our pick will go towards the Runderwear Easy on Running sports Bra, Not only is it a bra that has been tried and tested, but its a bra one of our team wears all year round and swears by them. As she explained

“you pay for what you get and this is a little on the pricey side, but I would rather run in comfort!”

 

 

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This Runderwear running bra is a rare find. Not only do the moulded cups offer great support, even for a G cup, but this bra also provides comfort from start to finish making it a long run game changer. The supportive under-band and the wide, padded shoulder straps help distribute the breasts’ weight evenly while you are running, alleviating the uncomfortable neck and shoulder strain common with most large-cup sports bras. Unlike most high-impact bras which are racerback, this has an open back, making it easy to get on and off (no need to compete with fiddly hooks postrun).

Yes, it comes with a price tag, but this is very reasonable compared to the limited DD+ options available. Our testers thought this exceptional running bra was worth the investment.

Freya Women's Full Coverage Active Underwire Molded Sports Bra, Grey (Carbon), 36F
  • High performance with average coverage, wide wired comfortable, supportive fit
  • Coolmax fabric inside bra and microfiber wicks away moisture, while mesh panels provide cooling comfort. Breathable spacer fabric keeps you cool and dry. Mesh inserts for cool comfort
  • Double lined for firm grip Firm, flat ground band for good anchoring
  • Padded strap and soft hook and eye for extra comfort and support

With underwiring, padded straps and a mesh front for breathability, this Freya Active sports bra is an excellent choice for runners looking for powerful support. The flattering design is available in sizes up to 38JJ and comes in black, beige and white. It’s the best running bra for larger-chested women, with size F-J cups.

Freya Women's Active Soft Cup Crop Top Sports Bra, Carbon, 32F
  • Shapes and supports by encapsulating the breast rather than using traditional compression with a round profile using inner slings for maximum support
  • High performance with full coverage and outer skin performance layer
  • Coolmax fabric in inner bra and microfiber wicks away moisture while mesh panels provide cooling comfort
  • Sliding hook for racer back option with quick and easy dressing
  • Adjustable padded straps, soft hook and eye with four rows for flexible fit, seam soft thread to reduce friction against the skin and soft wide bottom band for comfort and support

With underwiring, padded straps and a mesh front for breathability, this Freya Active sports bra is an excellent choice for runners looking for powerful support. The flattering design is available in sizes up to 38JJ and comes in black, beige and white. It’s the best running bra for larger-chested women, with size F-J cups.

Brooks Dare Crossback Women’s Run Bra for High Impact Running, Workouts and Sports with Maximum Support
  • RECOMMENDED FOR: The Dare Crossback is perfect for runners who want the ease of a pullover bra but the secure fit of built-in cups that most pullover sports bras don’t provide. Predecessor: Brooks Up Collection
  • STREAMLINED DESIGN: Crossback design with pullover style makes it simple to pull this sports bra on and off - no zips or hooks needed.
  • HIDDEN BOTTOM BAND: Bottom band is integrated fully into the sports bra, offering support where you need it and smooth, seamless and chafe-free comfort.
  • DISTRACTION-FREE DESIGN: Supportive DriLayer HorsePower fabric joins forces with molded cups and free-cut construction for visible shape and a streamlined silhouette that contours to your body.
  • RUN IN COMFORT AND STYLE: Free-cut construction and minimal seams lets you run in style with distraction-free comfort.

A pullover style with no hooks or zips, this bra claims to offer chafe-free comfort. We were worried at first that the lack of straps would mean the bra would be difficult to adjust, but when testing, the bra seemed to fit comfortably. On the run, it didn’t rub and offered a good amount of support. We liked the built-in moulded cups (if you always end up pulling the padded cups out of a running bra you will too) and the fabric is buttery soft, even after multiple washes. All in all, a great bra that didn’t chafe, had good sweat-wicking properties and wasn’t too difficult to take off at the end of a long run.

Shock Absorber Women's Active Classic D+ Support SA D+ Max Bra, Black, 34E
  • Soft, wide underband for comfort
  • Wide, padded adjustable straps

A high-support, multi-sport running bra that was given a score of 92/100 by a range of women of different cup sizes in a recent Good Housekeeping sports bra test. One tester wrote: “Despite lack of underwire, I felt well supported. The upper and lower clasps gave 360 support. It felt good and I would happily buy!” The bra has a full back opening to make getting it off after a run that little bit easier, but a few testers found it difficult to clip the top hook of the sports bra. All of the testers found the sports bra was true to size and agreed they felt supported during their workout, with most testers also loving the look of the sports bra.

panache Women's Full Cup Plain Sports Bra, Black, Size: 34E
  • UK sized bra with smooth shape with flat seams

A good choice for D+ breasted women, this bra feels as good as it looks, thanks to the wide, comfortable straps, which convert between straight and racerback styles. The underwiring is soft enough not to be noticeable, and the bra uses separate cup encapsulation to support the breasts. The back closure is easy to operate, even when sweaty, and the only downside we could find is that the bra needs to be washed by hand, which can be irritating if you’re running most days.

Shock Absorber Women's Ultimate Fly Bra Sports, Multicolour (Noir/Gris 05x), 34D
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Shock Absorber Women's Ultimate Fly Bra Sports, Multicolour (Noir/Gris 05x), 34D
  • Patented cross control technology, that features a laser cut 3D spacer
  • Brushed elastic to reduce friction
  • Please refer to the fitting guide before you make your purchase

Many runners are already familiar with Shock Absorber’s popular Ultimate Run bra, but this latest design is possibly even better. Laser cut material on the bust helps absorb movement from all angles, and its three-layer fabric construction feels like a second skin. Best for C-E cups, a lot of work has gone into the bounce level testing at the University of Portsmouth – the leaders in breast health.

Unlike many high-impact sports bras, this design from Triumph is super lightweight and avoids the ‘heavy duty’ look. Its back clasp makes it easy to get in and out of, plus its straps can be attached together for an extra-secure racerback style. Breathable, secure and good-looking to boot.