Sports Bras

Get a sport bra for your athletic activity

Sports bras are designed with both comfort and health in mind – like any supportive bra, a sports bra helps to lift the bust and ease upper back stress, but it must also be able to stabilize without restricting movement.

Just like fashionable everyday styles, women's sports bras need to fit properly to work well. In this case, "working well" means controlling breast motion without causing breathing difficulty or uncomfortable compression. Different body types require different features to maintain a comfortable fit; begin by taking accurate measurements to find your real bra size, and then try on a variety of styles that are meant to work with the shape of your body and your level of activity.

Sport Bra Styles

There are two general types of sports bras: those that have defined cups to hold the breasts in place, and those that compress or flatten the chest. Women with larger breasts often prefer the support of a firm, molded cup, as it won't compress the chest to the point of discomfort or lead to bulging at the sides. The compression style is ideal for certain high-impact activities like running, where a regular vertical movement will quickly lead to pain and discomfort if the breasts are not held in place.

As with full figure bras, an underwire style provides the best support for an ample bust. However, a wire in a sport bra can be either a support savior or an implement of torture, so you will want to make sure that the underwire sports bra is padded, with solid stitching all around to prevent painful poking.

A racerback bra with seamless construction provides good support and a sturdy fit. While most underwire sports bras typically feature a clasp or hook and eye closure, the racerback bra is pulled on in one piece, eliminating the risk of pressure or chafing at the site of the closure. A wider back panel offers the most support, while thinner straps make it easier to wiggle into the bra. For lower-impact activities, sport camisoles will often be the most comfortable and lightweight choices.

What to Look for in a Sports Bra

When it comes to comfort in a sports bra, fit and ventilation go hand in hand. The fabric of the sports bra should be ultra-breathable, like a blend of cotton and Lycra mesh. Cotton tends to hold its shape and feel softer against the skin than other materials, but it doesn't pull away moisture from the skin very well; a cotton bra that is lined with a moisture-wicking material will keep you cool and dry.

Finally, the sport bra that you choose should stand up to any movement you throw at it. When you're trying out each style, it's a good idea to do a few jumping jacks to test the fit and support, as this vertical motion and hard impact mimics the movements that the bra will stand up to on a regular basis. If you notice any prominent seams or pressure at the back closure, you may regret your choice halfway through an uncomfortable workout – be sure the bra has a smooth design, and extra padding in the straps and band to prevent chafing and pinching.

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