Let’s talk about support. And this isn’t about over-pronation, for once. Nope, it’s time to let down our walls, ladies, and talk about our second most important piece of running equipment: our sports bra. Finding the right sports bra can be an overwhelming experience, and for some it’s enough to never even broach the subject. Being fitted for a sports bra, and the subsequent onslaught of try-ons can be frustrating, intimidating, and eye-opening, all at the same time. But just consider: would you ever go running in professional work flats just because you didn’t want to take the time to shop for your running shoe sole mate? Never! Neither should you throw on that 6-year-old compression bra from Target, possibly layered over your everyday bra for additional support, and gleefully head out for your run.
Whether you are a brand new runner, or if you’ve been around the block a few [hundred] times, if you are larger or smaller, confident or hopeless, now is your moment to woman up and find your best fit. Trust me, you’ll never look back.
1. Cup size
Cup size is the most important factor to consider when selecting a sports bra. Cup size determines how supportive a given bra style will be, and since running is a high impact sport, you’ll need to make sure your bra is classified as high impact for your cup size.
Fit Problem: Spillage or muffin top (at the top or sides of the bra).
Spillage might indicate that the cup size is too small, or it’s not the best bra style for your shape (more on that later!).
Fit Problem: The cup is wrinkling or puckering.
Puckering means the cup is too big and you should go down a cup size. Keep in mind that most women have one larger breast and one smaller. In that case, choose your cup sized based on the larger breast size, and choose a bra that has adjustable straps to dial in the fit on the other side.
2. Band size
Seems intuitive, right? Believe it or not, 8 out 10 women are wearing the wrong size sports bra, and a lot of women have the most trouble finding the correct band size. Keep in mind that the majority of the support should come from the band, not the straps. Make sure the band is snug and secure, and lays flat against the rib cage right below the breast tissue, but also be sure you can comfortably breathe. If you already know your band size in your lingerie bra, that’s a great starting point. If not, refer to the sizing video to learn how to do your own measurements. Also, it’s best to be measured yearly to keep it accurate.
Fit Problem: Straps digging into the shoulder.
This means the support is coming from the straps, not the band. Try the next band size down to get the proper support.
Fit Problem: Band rolling, flipping up, or chafing.
This probably means that the bra is old and the elastic in the band is worn and has lost its support. Or it could be that the straps are too tight and causing the band to ride up. Chafing also happens when the bra is too old, or if the band is too tight or too loose.
Your shape, or the bra’s? Well, both! Your unique shape will help indicate what shape of bra you might need. Let’s be honest, every woman is shaped differently, and with that we have to admit that not all of us can wear the same type of bra. A woman who is a little shallower (less dense breast tissue, potentially wider set) will want to choose a bra with less contouring, or shaping, and she can also opt for a bra with a lower cut without risk of spillage. On the other hand, a woman with a full shape will want to go with a bra with plenty of contouring and a higher neckline. This allows plenty of space for the girls and can help control the upward movement of the breast during the run.
Fit Problem: Excessive cleavage, spillage at the top of the bra, but little to no spillage under the arms.
Choose a bra with a fuller contour! Look for a bra with a higher neckline and wording that describe a fuller shape, like “contour” or “sculpture”.
Fit Problem: Not filling out the top of the cup but finding that the bottom of the cup is nicely filled out.
Time for a shallower cup! Check out bras that have a lower neckline, or even a v-neck. Words like “softly molded” and “subtle contour” hint at a less full shape.