For female runners, choosing the right sports bra for running is comparable to getting the right trainers – if it’s comfortable and it fits right, you’ll run better. A good sports bra might feel tight in the changing room, but keeping your chest secure and reducing bounce helps alleviate back and breast pain. It’s also important for your breasts themselves, especially if you’re running long distances regularly, as a good sports bra will look after your breasts’ supportive tissue – the Coopers ligaments, that stop your breasts from sagging.
But how should a sports bra fit, and how can you ensure you find the best one for you? To help make things easier, we’ve rounded up the best sports bras on the market here.
What are the different types of sports bras for running?
There are two main types of sports bras:
1. Encapsulation bras have two cups like a normal bra, but with extra support.
2. Compression bras look more like a crop top. They work by pressing your breasts against your chest and are usually pulled on over your head. A good option for smaller-breasted women, if you’re opting for a compression bra, make sure the centrepiece lies flat against the breastbone.
How should a running sports bra fit?
If you’ve never worn a sports bra before, start with your usual bra size. Your sports bra should fit snugly, without being so tight that you can’t breathe. At a first glance, adjust the strap and ensure that the back band is at the same level all the way round your body – if the back band rides up, the bra is too big. You should be able to get no more than one finger under the band, and the material shouldn’t pucker.
Like trainers, sizes and measurements vary across brands, so it’s a good idea to try a few and find the one that fits your body best. Find more information on how your sports bra should fit, how often you need to change it and why your sports bra is chafing in our guide here.
16 of the best sports bras for running on the market in 2018:
We’ve rounded up our top picks here:
With underwiring, padded straps and a mesh front for breathability, this Freya Active sports bra is an excellent choice for runners looking for powerful support. The flattering design is available in sizes up to 38JJ and comes in black, beige and white. It’s the best running bra for larger-chested women, with size F-J cups.
It might be on more expensive than some of the other bras on this list, but you’ll feel the difference. It’s built for running, with moulded cups for high support. There’s no pressure points when you run, thanks to the bra’s bonded elements which allow it to lay close to the skin, preventing movement. The microfiber lining is also quick drying and soft to the touch.
The clues in the name with this one – the bra won’t distract you from the miles you’ve got to run. This solid, everyday running bra offers support, breathability and an extremely comfortable fit. Whether you’re going long or upping the intensity at the track, the strong fabric keeps movement to a minimum, and the moulded mesh cups on the inside separate the breasts to provide tailored support.
Available up to an E-cup, Sweaty Betty have created a sports bra that gives you all the support, whilst looking great. The soft padded straps sit comfortably against your skin and can be fastened in a racer-back or classic design. No matter how far you run, the sweat-wicking fabric and mesh panels have been designed to keep you cool. Available in black and an eye-catching red.
A good choice for D+ breasted women, this bra feels as good as it looks, thanks to the wide, comfortable straps, which convert between straight and racerback styles. The underwiring is soft enough not to be noticeable, and the bra uses separate cup encapsulation to support the breasts. The back closure is easy to operate, even when sweaty, and the only downside we could find is that the bra needs to be washed by hand, which can be irritating if you’re running most days.
A good choice for those with smaller-breasts, this pull-on, seamless compression sports bra is soft and comfortable. The airy mesh panels between the breasts and under the arms help keep you cool as you clock up the miles. The extra-wide bottom band provides additional support, and is a good choice if you wear a chest heart-rate monitor. The padded cups can move out of place which is annoying, but you can remove them completely quite easily. Available in sizes XS to L.
This Runderwear bra is designed to remove bounce when running and it really does. It’s easy to get on and off and stays in place, thanks to the racer back, adjustable straps and hook eye closure. It’s breathable and comfortable thanks to the moisture-wicking fabric and integrated mesh panels. It’s not the best choice for larger-breasted women, as it’s only available in cup sizes B-DD.
Many runners are already familiar with Shock Absorber’s popular Ultimate Run bra, but this latest design is possibly even better. Laser cut material on the bust helps absorb movement from all angles, and its three-layer fabric construction feels like a second skin. Best for C-E cups, a lot of work has gone into the bounce level testing at the University of Portsmouth – the leaders in breast health.
With a gel-infused strap lining and a hook/eye closure, this NB Power Bra will stay comfortable and stay put, no matter how quick you’re going. The pullover, racerback style makes the bra ideal for women with smaller-breasts, and the fabric cups keep everything in place. Available up to a DD cup, so not the best choice for larger-breasted runners.
Made of moisture-wicking Climalite fabric that keeps you dry, the soft padded cups of this Adidas bra adapt to your natural shape, securing your breasts close to the body, without flattening your curves entirely. Available up to size XXL, the straps can be converted from an X-back to a U-back and the inner power mesh construction helps keep everything supported.
An ever-popular design from Brooks, the Juno model has been updated based on feedback from consumers that its previous iterations were hard to get out of. Now, its redesigned back makes it much more manageable post-run, and its powerful and adjustable Velcro straps are as great as ever. Available up to an E cup.
Designed specifically for bigger busts, this non-padded sports bra from Panache is available in up to J cups and a 46-inch back sizes. Its wide foam straps help prevent it digging in to your shoulders, plus its underwiring is cushioned for extra comfort.
Unlike many high-impact sports bras, this design from Triumph is super lightweight and avoids the ‘heavy duty’ look. Its back clasp makes it easy to get in and out of, plus its straps can be attached together for an extra-secure racerback style. Breathable, secure and good-looking to boot.
A classic compression bralette from Nike, this is a good, affordable choice for women with smaller-breasts. Available in sizes from XS-L, it’s a good idea to try a few on to ensure you’ve got the right size. The racerback design helps breathability, whilst keeping everything secure.
This Under Armour bra is comfortable and supportive, but best suited for smaller-chested women, as the compression is mid-impact. It keeps everything in place, it’s easy to get on and off and the pocket on the front comes in handy. Available in sizes XS-XL.
Available in cup sizes B to DDD, this Victoria Secrets maximum support bra is super soft and ultra-lightweight. The laser-cut makes the bra breathable, and the encapsulated cups help control bounce. Available in a number of different colours, this sports bra wont dig in, no matter how long you wear it. That said, it’s hand-wash only which is a little annoying if you’re running every day.