How To Pick The Right Sports Bra For Your Size

Ensuring you’ve got the best fit for your breasts is essential to avoid discomfort and chafing.

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Illustration, Remie Geoffroi.
Illustration, Remie Geoffroi.

It’s a fact: breasts move around a lot. And they move around even more when we run. Up and down, side to side — they’re all over the place. It’s because breasts have no built-in stability function; the only thing connecting them to us is skin tissue. And that’s why finding the right sports bra is so key. There’s a whole field of science dedicated to breast motion and how it impacts performance — it’s known as breast biomechanics. We consulted LaJean Lawson, who has studied bras at Oregon State University’s biomechanics lab for more than 30 years, to give us tips on choosing a sports bra for your chest size.

Your Head-To-Toe Guide To Running A Marathon
Your Head-To-Toe Guide To Running A Marathon

For small breasts
An all-stretch compression bra supports breasts by hugging them close to the body, while a pull-over style means you don’t have to mess with hooks or hardware that might chafe. Moulded cups preserve curves (and conceal nipples).

For medium breasts
In an encapsulation bra, separate cups keep everything secure; they also stop sweat from collecting between your breasts. Adjustable straps provide a customized fit and support — and at the end of the workout, it won’t be a massive struggle to get the bra over your head.

For large breasts
You want separate cups, a higher front to keep breasts from surging up and a strong, U-shaped back to stop everything from falling forward or down. Wide straps will better distribute pressure, but you don’t want a lot of stretch or your breasts will tug.