Every woman's body is built a little differently. Some of us have lean, athletic builds while others are curvier. Some are short and others tall. While most of us fit into a prescribed bra size, we all have different blessings and challenges where our breasts are concerned.
For women who love to run, finding a suitable sports bra is just as important as selecting the right pair of shoes, purchasing garments in wick-away fabrics, and learning the wonders of Body Glide to prevent chafing. Once you've discovered preferred running routes and nailed down a running buddy, it's time to toss those tired, old sports bras and get on board with products designed to provide the support you need when running.
How can you tell which sports bra is right for you? Even if friends recommend a brand or a bra, their physiology and needs may differ from yours. Here are a few basics that should help every woman find the running sports bra that's right for her.
Schedule a Professional Fitting
It's a sad truth that many women don't actually know their bra size. If you think that because you've been wearing the same size for years, this means you know your current size, think again. Over time, our bodies change, thanks to weight gain or loss, hormones, pregnancy, and other factors. As a result, plenty of women who knew their size a year or five ago have changed.
In truth, you should go for a professional bra fitting at least annually, even if you have no changes in your life that you think might affect your sizing. This should be easy to remember because you shouldn't wear any of your bras for longer than a year, sports bras included.
The right size of bra can make a world of difference, not only in how you look in your clothes, not to mention your level of confidence, but also when it comes to running form and comfort.
There are three main considerations when it comes to the band, which sits under your breasts and encircles your ribcage. It should be wide, it should feature strong elastic, and it should fit snugly but comfortably. Your sports bra band should be tighter than an everyday bra to provide the support you need for jogging, but it shouldn't be so tight as to cause discomfort or limit movement or breathing.
The cups go around the breasts and need to hold them in place. If you choose a sports bra that is too loose or low cut in the cup area, it's not going to provide the coverage and support you need when running. A firm fit is best, so try running in place in the fitting room to make sure a sports bra will serve your purposes when put to practical use.
The straps on your sports bra should not provide the majority of your support, instead helping to keep your bra in place. Wide, adjustable straps will serve you best when running. They should fit snugly without digging into your shoulders.
Compression and Encapsulation
There are a couple of different configurations to choose from when it comes to sports bras: those that provide encapsulation and those that provide compression. Most women opt for compression bras that compress breasts against the body. There are also garments that encapsulate, or separate the breasts. Ideally, you want both comfort and support when running, in which case you may want to look for a sports bra that offers both compression and encapsulation.
If you're doing it right, running will likely make you hot and sweaty, so you need garments that will keep you cool and dry. Look for sports bras that feature wick-away, cooling fabrics for this purpose.
When it comes to comfort, you want a sports bra that's snug and fitted to provide you with the support you need while running, but not so tight as to restrict your breathing or movement. Finding this balance may require that you try on a variety of bras.
However, it is important to take your time and find a bra that is both comfortable and supportive, especially if you run quite a bit. If it fails on either score, it could affect your performance.