Hunting for the Ideal Running Bra

Hunting for the Ideal Running Bra

August 12, 2018

Did you know the first running bra was created by sewing two jockstraps together? Nope, we’re not pulling your leg! The ‘jockbra’ was the brainchild of Lisa Lindahl. Her sister used to complain about chafing, soreness and slipping bra straps during exercise. Enterprising Lisa solved her sister’s problem with a pair of jockstraps. The more appropriately titled ‘Jogbra’ was born.

Now we’ve raised a smile, let’s get down to business!

Finding the right running bra can feel like running a marathon in high heels. Every girl needs support, whether large or small busted.

The million dollar question is this:

How does a girl go about picking the right product?

There are all sorts out there. Some have adjustable straps. Others are pulled on over the head. Some are virtually seamless.

It needn’t be a tricky business. Don’t bury your head in the sand and just select the first one you stumble across. The good news is that there’s a product out there for everyone. All shapes and sizes are catered for. As are all running lifestyles - from 5k beginners to more experienced marathon runners.

Here’s how to hunt for and find the support system that suits you.

Why wear a running bra?

Wondering whether to bother buying a specialist bra? I can tell you from experience that normal bras just don’t cut it. Even if you have a modest bust like mine.

Trust me. Neglect to bother with specialist support and you’ll meet my friend pain!

Let’s have it right, ladies. You wouldn’t wear a strapless dress without adequate support. The same principle applies for your workout gear.

A proper support system differs from a conventional bra. The fabric and structure are designed to handle the impact of vertical motion and provide additional support. A lingerie style has a completely different function and is designed for a static standing position.

You’ll also be conscious of the fact that you’re wearing a bra whilst running. Good support systems are like a decent pair of contact lenses. You forget you’re wearing them. Which is exactly what you want when running. Especially when training for a marathon.

How to hunt for your ideal running bra

As with running shoes, there is no one perfect product. The key is in the word ‘your.’ The right support system is the one that suits your specific shape.

Before you hit the online or bricks and mortar stores, work out what you want from a running bra. Are you small, medium or large chested? What’s your running routine? Are you starting out or working towards a half or full marathon? Determining the level of support you need is vital. For running, high impact (or maximum control) is the way forward.

Choosing a running bra isn’t just about size. Your fitness lifestyle and preferred training type play a role too.

Whatever product you go for, it should have the following qualities:

Light, breathable fabric – just like running tops, shorts and skirts, the right fabric makes all the difference when it comes to comfort. A sweat-wicking fabric that keeps you cool is best. Steer clear of cotton as it hangs onto moisture. Keep an eye out for Dri-FIT fabric.

Excellent RVM – say what? This simply means a high level of restricted vertical movement. The purpose of the design of a running bra.

Smooth – the whole bra should be smooth to the touch to prevent painful chafing.

Mesh panels in back – for breathability.

Finding the right size

As with conventional bras, many women choose the wrong size. The best sports support system in the world is useless if it doesn’t fit. Trial and error wastes money that could be spent on a new pair of trainers. Or a marathon entry fee!

Go and get yourself measured before parting with your money.

Alternatively, do it yourself. Here’s how in 10 steps:

  1. Find a dressmaker’s measuring tape. The softer the better
  2. Wear an everyday bra that fits you well
  3. Stand in front of a mirror
  4. Keeping the tape straight, measure underneath your bust, above your rib cage
  5. If you get an odd number add 3 inches
  6. If it’s even, add 4 inches
  7. The figure you get is the size you need across your back
  8. To find your cup size, measure around the fullest part of your bust.
  9. When you have the figure, deduct it from the back measurement.
  10. The difference between the two measurements gives your cup size.











Cup Size











Never assume manufacturers follow the same size guidelines. It’s just like dress sizes. I’m a 6 in some stores and an 8 in others. The old rule applies – try before you buy!

There’s a simple test that determines whether a running bra is right for you. It’s called the jump test. Do a few jumping jacks or run in place. Does the bra hold your bust firmly? There should be a minimal amount of movement.

The perfect fit for you is a snug one. Too tight and you’ll have trouble breathing. Bad news – especially if you’re running a marathon!

Types of Running Bra

Not all sports support systems are the same. As a general rule, running bras tend to fall into two camps.

Compression Support

These tend to be suited to those with smaller busts – A and B cups. The vast majority are designed to be pulled over the head.

It’s called a compression running bra because of the way in which it supports the bust. Namely, by compressing it against the chest to prevent RVM. It may sound uncomfortable but take it from me, it isn’t. Provided you choose the right size. Surprisingly enough, compression styles aren’t unflattering either. Some come with lightly padded and slightly moulded cups.

I love the sports bra bar at She Active. They start at 28A and go right up to 44F. These clever people have teamed functionality with fashion. A rarely achieved combination in running bras!

Encapsulation Support

Better for the biggest busted – C and above. They work by providing support to individual breasts. The design differs from compression running bras. Encapsulation styles tend to have moulded cups along with adjustable back and shoulder straps. Some have zippers. Be careful of these, they have a habit of chafing. The last thing you need when you’re halfway through a marathon!

I’m pretty impressed by the Moving Comfort Calli Sports Bra. No zips and it provides ‘lift and separate’ support with no-stretch fabric and ventilation panels.

Can’t decide between the two?

You can also buy running bras that combine the two qualities of compression and encapsulation. These combination support systems are suitable for all cup sizes.

Happy hunting!

If you have a running/sports bra that you would recommend, please leave us a note in our comments.

Emily Green, WeirdMojo


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