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Best sports bra for running 2022: for support and comfort

Collage of the best sports bras for running
(Image credit: Future)

Having the best sports bra for running will enhance your active lifestyle, regardless of whether you're a trail conquering goddess or a road or track slaying heroine. A high quality sports bra is fundamental to your performance, comfort and speed.

It is, quite simply, the most essential base layer. The best sports bra for running will wick moisture away, keep you cool, stop chafing in its tracks, support delicate tissue and keep breasts from excessive, sometimes-uncomfortable movement. It's clear that having a quality bra is crucial.

To compile our selection of the best sports bras for running, we set out time and time again in our best trail running shoes to test these essential base layers in all weathers and on all kinds of terrain. To narrow our selection down to the finest 13 bras, we considered style, material, price point, comfort, compression, support, fabrics and fit.

Our guide has recently been updated with what we believe are the best sports bras for larger chested women, a trio of highly supportive base layers for ample bosoms. You will find these buying guides towards the bottom of this feature.

The best sports bras for running

The North Face Mountain Athletics Bra

(Image credit: The North Face)
This high performing sports bra provides all the support and sweat management you want on high intensity adventures

Specifications

List price: £35 (UK)
Sizes: XS-XL
Colors: Sharp green, black heather Black
Materials: 90% Polyester, 10% Elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent stay-put support
+
Flattering, comfortable fit
+
Moisture-wicking and fast drying
+
Reflective details for visibility on the roads
+
Good value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
A little hard to get on and off
-
Synthetic fabric gets smelly faster

The North Face Mountain Athletics Bra is designed to create support during high intensity activities as well as long-lasting comfort when you’re hitting the trail for hours on end. Made using The North Face’s FlashDry fabric, this good-looking sports bra wicks away sweat and dries quickly to keep you cool and comfortable.

The square-shaped collar, thick straps, and broad elasticated band around your ribcage provide good coverage and give maximum support when you’re running, while soft jersey fabric and flat-locked seams mean no chafing, even on long days. This bra is definitely built for performance, which means it can be a little hard to pull on and off, but the trade-off is that once it’s on, it keeps everything in place even when you're sprinting for the finish line.

Read our full The North Face Mountain Athletics Bra review

Enell Sport High Impact Bra

(Image credit: Enell)
A fantastically supportive bra for those with very large boobs, in a unique, front-opening waistcoat design and superhero colorways

Specifications

List price: $75 (US) / £60 (UK)
Sizes: 32-60 C+
Colors: Green & Pink / Gray & Purple / Maroon / Pink / White / Nude / Black

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfy
+
Fits much larger boobs
+
Extremely supportive
+
Robust
+
Front opening
+
Breast-feeding compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
High price
-
Heavy & warm
-
Harder to get on
-
Not adjustable
-
Sizing takes brainpower

The Enell Sport High Impact Bra is a firm favorite for runners with very large boobs, as it’s completely different from all the other sports bras for running. Firstly, it is front-opening waistcoat design with 10 hooks, which at first – we cannot lie – is more tricky to do up than your usual rear three-hook chest band design (see also: a guide to different types of sports bras), until you get some practice in – start from the bottom hook and work your way upwards is Enell’s top tip, and it works.

The front-fastenings also provide fantastic easy access for breastfeeding; simply open the bra down to the bottom couple of hooks, pop a boob out and you’re meals on wheels – well, legs – for your beloved little milk monster. 

Sadly, you will have to pay a higher price for this awesome bra, but it’s worth it, especially if you can get it in Sweet Pea – a bright, silk-shiny green with pink trim that will undoubtedly make you feel and perform like a superhero.

Read our full Enell Sport High Impact Bra review

Gymshark Speed Sports Bra

(Image credit: Gymshark)

Gymshark Speed Sports Bra

Look for high coverage from this budget-friendly, stylish showstopper

Specifications

List price: $40(US) / £30 (UK)
Sizes: XS-XL
Colors: Teal Lagoon/Dusty Pink/Black
Materials: 80% Nylon, 20% Elastane
Support: Medium

Reasons to buy

+
High coverage
+
Soft materials
+
Handy storage
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
Underband feels tight
-
Hard to conceal under tank tops and tees

With this high-coverage bra, you don’t have to choose between comfort and cool. The stylish high neck and extended torso offer more coverage than a typical running bra, and we felt comfortable wearing it as a stand-alone piece. (Good thing, because the design makes it hard to conceal under tanks and tees.) Made from silky-smooth fabrics, the Gymshark Speed Sports Bra feels absolutely luxurious against the skin. A clasp-in back and half-zip up front make for an easy on/off. The zipper also helps control body temperature – zip up for cold starts and ease the zipper down as you heat up on the run (although note that lowering the zipper lessens breast support).

If you tend to chafe at the armpit when material cuts in close, you’ll love the deep under-arm swoop. The underband felt tight, but the material is smooth and didn’t chafe. There is a sneaky phone pocket in the racerback that even has a hole for headphones. Support is technically ‘medium’, but we ranked it ‘high’ for smaller breasts, offering plentiful hold and compression with minimal movement, making it one of the best sports bras for smaller chests. However, runners with larger breasts should try this on before buying to ensure it offers a sufficient level of support.

Lululemon Enlite Bra Zip Front in black

(Image credit: Lululemon)

Lululemon Enlite Bra Zip Front

A super-secure and supportive bra that is functional, cute and comfortable

Specifications

List price: $108 (US) / £88 (UK)
Sizes: 30C - 40DD
Colors: Many
Materials: Ultralu
Support: High

Reasons to buy

+
Easy on/off 
+
Excellent stay-put support
+
Flattering, super-comfortable cut

Reasons to avoid

-
Straps hold some damp

Combining a butter-smooth feel with serious support, the lululemon Enlite Bra Zip Front may quickly become your go-to. We loved its super-easy on/off, thanks to the full-zipper closer. The robust zipper is covered by smooth fabric, and while we were aware of it, particularly its metal stops, it didn’t cause any problematic rubbing or chafing at the breast bone. The uber-smooth fabric isn’t just comfy – it is a solid high-impact performer, stretching and flexing with you, all the while keeping bounce and movement to a minimum. We loved how it stayed in place, never riding up or shifting.

The material was impressively sweat-wicking in the cups, although less so on the straps, which retained some moisture. The scoop neck and molded cups create a natural feminine shape, and we loved not having to fuss with removable pads. The short cut of the bodice is also a winner, making this one of the best sports bras for giving your lungs and ribs to expand and breathe. While the price tag is high, you can be confident of getting a lot of miles out this high-quality, super-wearable bra.

Brooks Dare Strappy Run Bra in black

(Image credit: Brooks)

Brooks Dare Strappy Run Bra

With its barely there fit and feel, this bra is so comfortable, you’ll forget you’re wearing it.

Specifications

List price: $60(US) / £50 (UK)
Sizes: 30AB-40AB
Colors: Arctic/Black/Lapis
Materials: Body: Dri Layer 63% nylon, 37% Spandex Spacer/Cups: DriLayer 100% Polyester
Support: High

Reasons to buy

+
Smart simplicity
+
Flattering silhouette
+
Seamless design

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as supportive as some tested
-
Limited sizes (AB only)
-
Some moisture-retention

If you’re like us, and can’t wait to fling off a constrictive sports bra once you’re done running, then this bra will come as a pleasant surprise. The Brooks Dare Strappy Run Bra is so comfy and unrestrictive, it's one of the best sports bras for wearing it on and off the run. While the compression and support are a little less than in some bras tested, if you are smaller up top (and that’s key, as the bra only comes in size AB), the support and hold are suitable for running, though adjustable straps might have helped to further individualize and snug the fit.

That said, the bra is seamlessness – no hooks, eyes, adjusters or other metal or plastic bits – is one of its charms. The strappy design is stylish, with a plunging V-neck; a low cut at the arms; and an airy back, all of which help make you feel liberated on the run. A molded uni-cup gives a nice, natural swell at the breast, without shifting or crinkling removable pads to fuss with. While we adored the smooth, soft feel of this fabric, it wasn’t as wicking as some tested, with the cups holding onto damp after harder workouts and warmer temps.

Adidas Don’t Rest Sport Hack Bra in pink and yellow

(Image credit: adidas)

Adidas Don’t Rest Sport Hack Bra

The strong performance of this supportive, well-ventilated bra is as bold as its design

Specifications

List price: £37.95 (UK ONLY)
Sizes: 2XS - 2XL
Colors: Power Berry/Black
Materials: 70% recycled polyester, 19% polyester, 11% elastane interlock
Support: Medium

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortably snug 
+
Good ventilation
+
Stylish design
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
Fussy pads
-
Shoulder straps may be loose on narrow shoulders

With its pullover design and removable pads, the Adidas Don’t Rest Sport Hack Bra has a traditional style, but it is anything but stodgy. We gave it high points for comfort, support, and a colorful, bold look that designers say was “inspired by the city at night.” The support is technically ‘medium’, but smaller-chested testers ranked it ‘high’, with more than enough compression and hold to stand up to running’s dynamic movements. A mesh racerback and swooping cut under the arms make it highly wearable, airy and non-restrictive. The underband felt a bit tight at the ribcage but, thanks to the soft, stretchy material, didn’t create problematic friction.

Breasts are separated and padded, giving them some nice definition rather than an unappealing compressed look you get with some of the best sports bras. The pads are a bit of a hassle to remove and reinsert, but that’s the best way to clean them. Thick shoulder straps give the bra an urban, chic look, though they are for fashion, not function, lending a cool factor, not support. They look great peeking out from a tank, though one tester with narrower shoulders found that they slipped down a bit. Overall, this is a sharp-looking, supportive and functional sports bra for running at a very competitive price.

Runderwear The Original Support Runderbra in black and blue

(Image credit: Runderwear)

Runderwear The Original Support Runderbra

Comfortable and exceptionally moisture-wicking, this no-nonsense gear gets it done on the run

Specifications

List price: $70 (US) / £50 (UK)
Sizes: 28A-38E
Colors: Black/Black, Pink/Black, Cyan
Materials: 68% Polyamide, 32% Elastane
Support: High

Reasons to buy

+
Adjustability
+
Wide range of sizes
+
Excellent sweat-wicking
+
Nicely stretchy

Reasons to avoid

-
Pads are a little fussy

Pullover bras can be a hassle to put on, but this one makes it a lot easier, thanks to nicely stretchy materials and a clasp in back that opens up extra space. Also refreshing is the extensive range of sizes, which means whether large- or small-chested, you’re likely to find a perfect fit. The support is a mix of compression and encapsulation, and we liked the natural look (two boobs rather than one flattened mound) and the secure hold, which was supportive without feeling constrictive. The materials are soft, as well as smart. When you sweat on the run, your bra is the first to get wet and the last to dry.

This design employs a clever mix of materials – a wicking fabric against the skin, with meshy panels layered on top in strategic spots to keep you cool. The system worked well, and among the products tested for this guide to the best sports bras for running, the Runderwear The Original Support Runderbra kept us driest. We weren’t fans of the removable pads, which got creased after one washing. The website did not mention removing them to wash by hand, but experience tells us that would be best.

Under Armour Infinity High Bra in black

(Image credit: Under Armour)

Under Armour Infinity High Bra

Adjustable, uber-light, comfy and flattering, this bra ticks every box

Specifications

List price: $60 (US) / £50 (UK)
Sizes: XS-XL
Colors: Black/Purple Dust/Dash Pink
Materials: 87% Polyester/13% Elastane
Support: High

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight materials
+
Very breathable 
+
Easy on/off
+
Adjustable

Reasons to avoid

-
None

If we were designing a bra to delight the widest swathe of runners, it would look a lot like the UA Infinity High Sports Bra, which offers a dream mix of solid support, smooth and wicking fabric, and an elegant shape. The molded cups are much easier than fussing with removable pads and offer a more natural silhouette – not lumpy or misshapen the way pads can be. While the bra comes in standard sizes of XS-XL, the fit is made more bespoke with adjustable crisscross straps as well as four sets of multitier hooks-and-eyes on the broad, stretchy underband, all of which allow you to better customize the fit and support.

We appreciated how this bra encapsulated and supported without suffocating, and in fact, has a refreshingly light, airy feel, thanks to super-lightweight, sweat-wicking fabrics, and thin, perforated cups that allow air to flow through. The icing on the cake is how easy it is to put on and remove, especially as we have a feeling we’ll be doing that a lot with this go-to bra.

Brooks Dare Scoop Back Run Bra in black

(Image credit: Brooks)

Brooks Dare Scoopback Run Bra

You’ll find smooth, supple, seamless support in this high-coverage bra

Specifications

List price: $70 (US) / £55 (UK)
Sizes: 30AB-40DD/E
Colors: Rosewood /Black / Lapis /Fluro pink / Asphalt / Multi stripe, Ash
Materials: Body: DriLayer. HorsePower Spacer 63% nylon/37% spandex/Cups: DriLayer. 100% polyester
Support: High

Reasons to buy

+
Highly adjustable
+
Easy on/off
+
High coverage
+
Flattering silhouette

Reasons to avoid

-
Support is less than some
-
Some moisture-retention
-
Underarm cut might create friction for some

If you‘re looking for smooth, seamless support along with high coverage, then look no further than Brooks Dare Scoopback Run Bra. First and foremost, we fell hard for this easy-to-love material, which is silky-smooth and luxuriously soft against the skin. The bra’s easy entry and exit also gets high marks. A stretchy, broad back strap with multiple fasteners means you put this on like a regular bra and then have plentiful choice as to how snug or tight to make it. Adjustable shoulder straps further dial in the fit. Support felt more ‘medium high’ than ‘high’, with a bit of bounce on the run, though the bra’s adjustability helps you modify the hold somewhat. We loved the look and ease of the molded uni-cup, which has a flattering, natural contour.

The cup got fairly damp after harder workouts, but there is strategic ventilation in front and in back, which helps air things out. If your inner arms or side boobs are chafing trouble spots, be aware that this high-coverage design cuts in quite close to the armpit.

Adidas Don’t Rest Badge of Sport Glam-On Bra in black

(Image credit: adidas)

Adidas Don’t Rest Badge of Sport Glam-On Bra

A breathable back panel means excellent, stay-dry support at great value

Specifications

List price: $45 (US) £34.95 (UK)
Sizes: Range of standard and plus sizes
Colors: Black/Purple/Pink
Materials: 70% recycled polyester, 19% polyester, 11% elastane interlock
Support: Medium

Reasons to buy

+
Well ventilated
+
Quick drying
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
Some rough materials

A classic compression bra functions by basically hugging close to the body to keep the breasts from moving around. That compression can offer varying degrees of comfort and support depending on a bra’s fit and your breast size. The support of the Adidas Don’t Rest Badge of Sport Glam-On Bra felt more ‘medium-high’ than ‘medium’ for both small and larger chests, without too much mashing and flattening thanks to stretchy material and (removable) pads.

As for comfort, the fabric is pleasantly soft and smooth against the skin, with the exception of the underband, which is of a coarser, more compressive material. That band felt a bit uncomfortable at first, but after a few wears and washings, the roughness was much less noticeable. This is one of the best sports bras for ventilation, with a generous mesh panel in back, and also impressively sweat-wicking, whisking away moisture from the skin better than bras with higher price tags. The racerback style allows for a good range of movement, and we loved the additional cross-back straps, which added style.

The best sports bras for larger-chested women

Just as you’d never drive a monster truck fast over a lumpy track without suspension, larger chested ladies know that we should never run, jump or sprint without an adequate sports bra. It’s annoying, painful, and you end up using one or both hands to clutch your boobs to stop them flapping up and down on your chest like a satsuma in a sock. Is women's outdoor gear up to scratch? Where sports bras are concerned, umpteen brands have designed absolutely fantastic bras to support our ample, heaving bosoms. 

Better still, the best sports bras don’t asphyxiate you like a corset, they’re a darn sight easier to do up and some of them even look pretty. In contrast, the prices may make you gasp. It’s definitely a sound investment to buy a well-fitting sports bra with all the right features for your chosen activity – be it running, cross-fit, horse-riding, mountain biking or Irish dancing – but you need to select the best bra for you and yours. Some you can wear all day and clip into racer back mode for action, others are padded lest others be alerted (nay distracted) by the fact that we have nipples, others are underwired for extra support.

Panache Non-Wired Sports Bra in gray

(Image credit: Panache)
At last, a highly supportive sports bra available in a huge range of colors and attractive patterns

Specifications

List price: $50 (US) / £40 (UK)
Size range: 28–40 B–J
Weight (34D): 112g/4oz
Colors: Multiple
Materials: 45% Polyamide, 39% Polyester, 16% Elastane
Fastening: Rear 3-hook chest strap plus optional racerback clip
Compatibility: All-day wear for multiple activities including high impact sports

Reasons to buy

+
Comfy to wear all day
+
Highly supportive
+
Slightly padded
+
Seamless shoulder straps
+
Optional racerback clip
+
Easy to get on and off, and adjust

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavy
-
A tad bulky
-
Warm

The Non-Wired Sports Bra from Panache is a very strong contender in a size 34 D. Available in sizes 28–40 B–J and so many colors (from coral to khaki), this bra will fit a great many different women and boobs. It’s not the lightest or smallest in the test and its padding means it’s a little on the warmer side (great for winter), but the wide, three-hook chest strap is comfortable without being restrictive around the ribs and the straps are easy to adjust and stay in place once moved. The shoulder straps are nice and wide over the shoulder then taper to meet the bra back and front, with no seams to rub anywhere if you’re wearing a running pack over the top. 

The best feature of this already awesome sports bra however is the optional racerback clip for full support while running or doing other super high impact sports. This is a circular piece of metal with a hook at the rear of the left shoulder strap, which you can hook into the other metal circle at the rear of the right strap. You can even complete this manoeuvre when the bra is already on, should you wish to break into an impromptu jog/play football with your kids/chase a burglar/run for a bus…you know the drill.

Read our full Panache non-wired sports bra review

Pure Lime Compression Sports Bra in black

(Image credit: Pure Lime)
A super supportive, lightweight sports bra in a wide range of sizes with optional racerback mode

Specifications

List price: $70 (US) / £50 (UK)
Size range: 28–44 A–GG
Weight (34D): 73g/2.6oz
Colors: Black/White/Blue/Black & pink
Materials: 100% polyester
Fastening: Rear 3-hook chest strap plus optional racerback clip
Compatibility: Lightweight sports bra for any high impact activity

Reasons to buy

+
Comfy & lightweight
+
Highly supportive
+
Optional racerback clip
+
Easy to get on and off, and adjust
+
Seamless shoulder straps

Reasons to avoid

-
No padding
-
High price
-
Racer back clip a little small to connect while wearing

The high impact Pure Lime Compression Bra is a best seller in so many bra stores for good reason. It’s available in a very wide range of sizes from 28–42 A–G (we tested a 34D) and thanks to the optional racerback clip, it’s super lightweight and very supportive for any bouncy activity you can think of from trampolining to skipping, to running and horse-riding. This optional racerback clip is also super light – it’s the smallest we have seen – which does make it a little trickier to find and connect while wearing, but you soon get the hang of this without having to get your partner/kid/dog to come and help you. 

The super wide shoulder straps without seams make this wonderfully comfy to wear with a running pack (or any kind of backpack) over the top, and the wide, 3-hook chest strap is also very comfy for all day wear. The CoolMax material it’s made from makes this one of the best sports bras for summer use, wicking sweat away nicely to keep you as cool as a cucumber. The only downside to this coolness is sticky out nips, which we shouldn’t care about seeing as they’re a natural body part after all, but sometimes society doesn’t change as quickly as you’d like.

Read our full Pure Lime Compression Bra review

Shock Absorber D+Max Support Sports Bra in black

(Image credit: Shock Absorber)
A fantastic value, highly supportive and lightweight sports bra for all high impact sports

Specifications

List price: $48 (US) / £38 (UK)
Size range: 30–40 D–G
Weight (34DD): 82g/2.9oz
Colors: Black/Grey/White
Materials: 49% ployamide, 5% Elastane, 46% polyester
Fastening: Rear 3-hook chest strap
Compatibility: Simple, great value, light sports bra for all high impact activities

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Highly supportive
+
Seamless shoulder straps
+
Easy to get off, and to adjust
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
Fabric could be softer
-
Not quite as easy to put on
-
Not padded

The Shock Absorber D+Max Support Sports Bra is the best value high impact sports bra in town. At only $48 /£38 and still providing excellent support (comparable to all the others in the test), this bra is fantastic for those on a budget or just starting out in a high impact sport like running (trainers are expensive these days!). The wide, 3-hook chest band is comfy, the shoulder straps seam free for running pack compatibility without rub, and the boobs are cupped individually inside with a stretchy moisture-wicking fabric. 

Unlike a lot of the bras in this test, this one doesn’t have an optional racer back clip yet it manages to provide the same level of bounce-free support as the others here. This design does make it a little harder to get on though as the shoulder straps sit closer to the neck and they are not at all stretchy. This bra isn’t padded, so there’s the chance for cold nipples to poke a “Hello world!” through the slim fabric, which is just something to be aware of if that’s not your bag. The fabric, seams and edging could be softer, but at such a great price we’re not complaining. If only this was available in even bigger sizes than G!

Read our full Shock Absorber D+Max Support Sports Bra review

Best sports bra for running comparison table
BraRRPSize rangeMaterials
The North Face Mountain Athletics Bra£35 (UK)XS-XL90% Polyester, 10% Elastane
Enell Sport High Impact Bra$75 (US) / £60 (UK)32-60 C+NATUREXX moisture management fabric
Gymshark Speed Sports Bra$40 (US) / £30 (UK) XS-XL80% Nylon, 20% Elastane
Lululemon Enlite Bra Zip Front$108.00 (US) / £88 (UK)30C - 40DDUltralu
Brooks Dare Strappy Run Bra$60(US) / £50 (UK)30AB - 40ABBody: Dri Layer 63% nylon, 37% Spandex Spacer/Cups: DriLayer 100% Polyester
Adidas Don't Rest Sport Hack Bra£37.95 (UK)2XS - 2XL70% recycled polyester, 19% polyester, 11% elastane interlock
Runderwear The Original Support Runderbra$70 (US) / £50 (UK)28A-38E68% Polyamide, 32% Elastane
Under Armour Infinity High Bra$60 (US) / £50 (UK)XS-XL87% Polyester, 13% Elastane
Brooks Dare Scoopback Run Bra$70 (US) / £55 (UK)30AB-40DD/EBody: DriLayer. HorsePower Spacer 63% nylon/37% spandex/Cups: DriLayer. 100% polyester
Adidas Don’t Rest Badge of Sport Glam-On Bra$45 (US) £34.95 (UK) Range of standard and plus sizes70% recycled polyester, 19% polyester, 11% elastane interlock
Panache non-wired Sports Bra$50 (US) / £40 (UK)28–40 B–J45% Polyamide, 39% Polyester, 16% Elastane
Pure Lime Compression Bra$70 (US) / £50 (UK)28–44 A–GG100% polyester
Shock Absorber D+Max Support Sports Bra$48 (US) / £38 (UK)30–40 D–G49% ployamide, 5% Elastane, 46% polyester

What to look for when buying a sports bra for running

As women, we may come in all shapes and sizes, but we all have breasts, and those jiggly, soft-tissue mounds need special attention during exercise, especially the high-impact motion of running. Whatever the size of your breasts, they – and you – will benefit from a well-made, well-fitting sports bra for running. A good running sports bra is not simply a nice-to-have, but rather, a necessity. 

Can you get away with running in a regular bra? Maybe in a pinch, depending on the fit and style. But a regular bra is definitely not designed to provide the degree of support, movement control, chafing prevention, heat management and other elements that high-impact sport demands. The same goes for regular underwear when pitched against the best running underwear.

Let’s take a look at the most important elements to consider:

Movement control

When you run, your whole body moves, including your breasts. Lateral movement as well as bouncing up and down can be an awkward and downright painful experience. A good sports bra holds your breasts in place, limiting movement by using either encapsulation or compression. 

An encapsulation bra supports each breast separately inside a cup, similar to a regular bra, while a compression bra presses both breasts tightly against the body to limit movement. For those with a larger chest, compression may not offer sufficient hold, making encapsulation effective, while those with smaller breasts may not perfectly fill the built-in molded cups, making compression the better-fitting option. 

A bra offering a mix of both compression and encapsulation – often with adjustable straps – can be an appealing option for all sizes, compressing to the chest while at the same time cupping each breast, offering higher comfort and a more-natural shape (read: no uni-boob).

Support

Sports bras typically offer one of three levels of hold: low, medium, and high. Running is a high-motion sport, and the bra you wear should be constructed for that. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to rule out all medium support bras, especially if you are smaller-breasted. High-impact bras certainly have the highest degree of compression and support, along with other special features such as more supportive straps and underbands. But medium support bras can be quite suitable for runners with smaller chests and – bonus – they tend to be more comfortable than a high-impact bra.

Moisture management

Running is a sweaty affair, so look for a breathable sports bra made from materials that help manage sweat or whisk it away like it never happened. Some fabrics do this better than others. Cotton and cotton blends are considered no-nos because they hold moisture, which can lead to a soggy, uncomfortable bra. 

Moisture-wicking fabrics pull moisture away from your skin to the exterior of the fabric, where it can more easily evaporate. Wool, nylon and high-tech polyesters are great options to look for. Other base layers and the best running leggings employ the same kinds of material.

best sports bra for running: woman running on the beach

Moisture wicking fabrics are important, as running is a sweaty affair (Image credit: Getty)

Anti-chafing materials and design

Any gear that relies on its ability to hold you in place during high-impact movement largely by staying close to your skin is going to be a candidate for chafing. Your running sports bra’s material and cut are crucial. A common complaint about sports bras is that they irritate delicate skin, particularly in high-chafe areas such as at the breast, under the armpit, or along the underband. 

Material, especially in areas that see significant friction due to the natural running motion, should be soft, stretchy, and as seamless as possible. Look for generous cuts at the armpits, which allow you to pump your arms as you run without chafing against material, and a seamless, soft underband. Steer clear of bras with rough seams or poorly constructed pieces.

Fit

The benefits of a great running sports bra are only effective if the bra actually fits you correctly. A good start is knowing your chest circumference and cup size, but be aware that many brands have their own sizing system, which can differ from your typical size in a regular bra. Trying a sports bra on and taking it for a little ‘test-drive’ at the store, such as jogging in place and jumping up and down, is the best way to understand a bra’s fit on your unique form. If you purchase online, look for sizing guides on product websites, which will help you choose the best fit on their particular products.