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I always have two pieces of advice for newbie women runners: 1) Make sure you’re wearing a decent pair of running shoes, and 2) Go buy yourself a good sports bra.
The running shoes? Obvious. The bra? Maybe not as obvious, but probably just as important. Wearing the wrong kind of bra is not only uncomfortable, but it can cause irreversible damage to the fragile ligaments and tissue in your breasts. This can lead to sagging, breast pain, upper back pain, and neck tension. And wearing the correct bra is especially important for us runners, because the high impact causes our breasts to move up and down, as well as side to side (which is not as fun as it sounds). Wearing the correct sports bra can reduce bounce by up to 78%.
But let’s face it – bra shopping can be a daunting task even when you’re just looking for an everyday bra or a strapless to wear under a cocktail dress. And for runners, sports bra shopping is serious business – we need to choose our bras just like we would any other piece of running gear. Not to mention that a good bra – one that does its job AND won’t fall apart after 3 washings – is a big investment. Good sports bras don’t come cheap. So you want to be sure that you’re doing your research and making a good choice.
So let’s talk about the different types of sports bras. Sweaty Betty sums them up really well with their Sports Bra Guide:
- Compression Bras are designed to secure the breasts against the chest to reduce movement and bounce. Of the 3 types of bras, this is the least appropriate for running and other high impact sports. A compression bra is best suited for low- or medium-impact sports, but it might work for a runner with smaller breasts (C cup or smaller).
- Encapsulation Bras are great for high-impact sports like running, and they work particularly well for women with a larger cup size. This type of bra has individual cups that surround and support (i.e., encapsulate) each breast separately.
- Combination Bras (you guessed it) combine the separate cups of an Encapsulated Bra with the look and firm hold of a Compression Bra. This is the best option for runners and other high impact athletes.
Sweat Betty has a great interactive guide that can help you determine which type of bra will work best for you.
Some other things to consider when selecting a running bra:
- Shoulder Straps – Are they padded? Wide enough? Adjustable?
- Underband – Does it give enough structure to the bra? Is it thick enough to provide adequate support?
- Fabric – Is it made from moisture-wicking material? Is it made from quick-drying material? Does it have mesh or panels?
Sports bras are available in everything from an A cup to an F cup, so there really should be something out there for just about everyone. Remember – if you jiggle or if the bra rubs, slips, or pokes you, then it’s not the right choice for you. Keep looking until you find a running bra that’s just right for you!
What do you look for when you purchase a running bra? Have I missed anything?