How to Choose the Best Sports Bra for Running

Runner training, rear view
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Wearing the right sports bra is critical to your comfort, especially during long runs. Running is a high-impact sport, so the bra you choose for running may be different from the one you love for cross-training days. Follow these steps to make sure you get the perfect one for you.

Shop In Person

It's important that you try on sports bras for fit and comfort. Go to a running specialty store, because they'll have high-impact sports bras that are designed especially for runners. If you're shopping somewhere else, make sure you look for a high-impact bra. Many sports bras don't have the right support for runners, especially if you have a larger chest.

Choose the Right Fabric

For chafing prevention and comfort, look for moisture-wicking fabrics such as Coolmax and Dri-FIT. Stay away from sports bras that are made of 100% cotton, because once you start sweating, they’ll stay wet.

Consider Strap Width and Cup Construction

If you have a large chest and need a lot of support, look for sports bras with wide shoulder straps, which are more likely to be padded as well as adjustable. A wider strap will also help distribute the pressure more comfortably. You'll also likely be more comfortable in an "encapsulation" type bra, which has individual cups for each breast (vs. a "compression" or shelf bra style).

Clasp or No Clasp?

A pullover style is fine for smaller breasts (say, A or B cups), but if you have a large chest, you will probably be more comfortable with a bra that comes with a clasp. It will be more adjustable.

Check the Seams and Underwire

Examine the seams of the sports bras you're trying on. You'll want seamless fabrics, seams with rolled edges, or covered seams to help prevent chafing. If you like bras with underwire, check that the underwire is completely covered so it will not gouge your skin.

Try on Different Sizes

Make sure you try on several different size sports bras. The right size for you may not actually be the cup size that you normally wear. The bra is too big if the material wrinkles or bunches. It should fit snugly but not constrict your breathing. And if the bra is cutting into your skin, or breast tissue is spilling out of the back or sides, then it's too small. If you can slide two fingers under the straps, then it's a good fit.

Test It Out

When you try on sports bras, jog in place or do jumping jacks to test their support before you buy. While you're bouncing up and down, the bra should minimize breast movement.

Shop Online Once You've Found the Bra You Love

If you know exactly the type of sports bra you're looking for and want to shop online, always look into the site's exchange and return policy. You may be able to find better deals online. has a good selection of bras and an excellent return policy, so you can return sports bras if they don't fit well.

Replace Your Bras Frequently

After you find the perfect sports bra, don't hold onto it forever! You should replace sports bras after about 72 washes, when the elasticity is lost, or if your weight changes significantly. Air-dry your sports bras to prolong the life of the moisture-wicking fabrics.

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