For most female runners a good sports bra is the most vital piece of gear they’ll need.
Based on our personal experience, feedback from runners, and the ABraThatFits community on Reddit, we feel we have come up with a comprehensive list of the best sports bras available for runners.
Here are our winners (click on a name to go to the decription and fit video):
- Best Overall Sports Bra for Runners: Panache Wired Sports Bra
- Best Sports Bra for Larger Cup Sizes: Freya Underwired Core
- Best Wire-free Option: Shock Absorber Run Bra
- Best Overall for Full Figures: Elomi Energise
- Best for Smaller Cup Sizes: Under Armour Shape High
- Best for Running with a Hydration Vest: Enell High Impact
Finding the Right Size for a Sports Bra
Before making any recommendations it is imperative that you find your correct bra size, it is estimated that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra and have no idea. Or worse running with 2 sports bras layered uncomfortably.
Running with a comfortable and correctly sized sports bra allows you to focus on your training and not your bust.
Use this bra size calculator to find out your correct bra size to get you started. Some of these measurements might seem odd but are very important because we all have very different breast shape and tissue and these different positions help to gauge this and find the best size for you.
Lots of women (especially in North America) are choosing the wrong sized bras because their size isn’t available at larger chains. Rather than telling you this, these places just fit you into what they have – resulting in a poor fit. This is the main reason that I highly recommend having an idea of your size before you go shopping by using the bra size calculator.
Don’t be shaken by a high letter (everyone is at first), our perception of cup sizes has been greatly skewed by pop culture and bra sizes don’t just end at DD. So don’t dwell on the size and let’s just focus on finding the right bra for you.
Types of Sports Bras
There are 2 main types of sports bras:
This type of sports bra tightly compresses the breast tissue to hold it in place. They generally aren’t offered in cup sizes but rather S, M, L, XL. These bras work for smaller chests, but usually don’t offer the full support that a wire will for larger chests, especially for runners.
For the most part encapsulation sports bras have wires and offer more support than compression by separating and lifting the breast tissue. The wires keep the breast in place during strenuous activities like running. These bras are cup sized and generally more comfortable than their tissue compressing counterparts.
Our Selection Of High Impact Sports Bras
Best Overall Sports Bra for Runners: Panache Wired
The gold standard of high impact sports bras is the Panache Wired Sports Bra.
This is the only sports bra that I have tried that is both comfortable and keeps everything in place, I once had a woman stop me mid-run to ask about my sports bra because she was so impressed. I can’t get enough of this sports bra it is a game changer for busty runners.
The Panache is a wired encapsulation bra with a molded cup that offers a variety of colors and sizes up to a 40GG. The underwire has padding around it which offers more flexibility than traditional wires.
There are many color options available and it is convertible to a racerback which offers even more support and flexibility. You can see the Panache Wired sports bra in action in the video below.
Larger Cup Sizes: Freya Underwired Core
The Freya Active Underwired Core Sports Bra is another high impact sports bra that offers wired encapsulation, these cups are not molded.
The look of this bra isn’t as sporty as the others and can give a bit of a pointy shape but it holds everything in place while running, which is our main goal.
This is a very high impact bra; if you do any obstacle running this bra fits tighter on top so in the event you find yourself upside down you’ll stay in place.
The Freya Core comes in black, white, and nude and is available up to a 38JJ, it is not available in racerback. The band is known to fit small and it is advised to go up a band size and down a cup size.
I would choose the Freya over the Panache if you prefer a non-molded cup, this shape works better for you, or you are larger than a GG cup.
See the Freya Active Underwired Core in action in the video below.
Best Wire Free Option: Shock Absorber Run Bra
Shock Absorber also offers some great sports bra options, their most popular for runners being the Shock Absorber “Run” Bra. This bra is a wireless encapsulation and compression bra.
The Shock Absorber Run bra comes in a variety of colors and sizes up to a 38F and has a racer back. Shock Absorber is known for running tight in the band so it is recommended to size up. The first few times getting in and out of this bra can be a bit awkward but you will get used to it. This bra should fit snug but make sure you can easily breathe before you settle on a size.
I find a wired bra (Panache or Freya) more supportive than the SA Run bra but if you prefer more compression or are a smaller cup size this is a great option.
See the Shock Absorber Run bra in action in the video below.
Best Overall for Full Figures: Elomi Energise
If you need a band or cup larger than the ones offered in the sports bras above, check out the Elomi Energise which is available up to a 38J, 40HH, 44GG and 46DD.
The Energise is a wired encapsulated sports bra with a molded cup. It is specifically designed for full figured woman to hold everything in place for high impact activities like running.
It is higher coverage but with its athletic design it looks like a tank or cami if it happens to show out of your shirt. This bra offers maximum support while staying very comfortable.
The Energise is available in a wide range of colors and has a convertible racer back.
See Elomi Energise sports bra in action in the video below.
Smaller Cup Sizes: Under Armour Eclipse High
If you have measured yourself using the guide above and find yourself below a D cup, another option (besides the Panache and Shock Absorber) is the Under Armour Eclipse High sports bra.
The Eclipse is available in 32A-38DD in a variety of colors and a convertible racer back. This sports bra is both attractive and comfortable and the versatility of the convertible back is a nice bonus.
This is an encapsulated compression bra with molded cups that provides excellent support for a smaller cup size.
You won’t get the same support offered by an underwire bra but if you are a smaller size and prefer this fit it is a great contender.
See the Under Armour Eclipse in action in the video below.
For Running with a Hydration Vest: Enell High Impact
This is a compression and encapsulation bra with a racerback and front closure.
This full coverage bra overs excellent support while giving you the smooth back needed when running long distances with a hydration vest.
Enell uses a different sizes system so be sure to measure yourself and consult their size guide on their website. They offer sizes 00-8 but will make you a custom size if needed.
This bra is available in a variety of fun colors as well as the basic black, white, and nude.
The Enell might fit tight at first, but you want a snug fit and the front closure really helps accomplish this. Begin with the bottom hook up adjusting your breast tissue into place as you move your way up.
This bra offers excellent support for running or any other high impact activity. If you find yourself between sizes I would recommend sizing down to get maximum support.
See the Enell High Impact in action in the video below.
Shopping Tips for Finding the Perfect Running Bra
It is highly recommended to try on the different options and see what works best for you. Not only are we all shaped very differently but sizes can even range between brands.
If you don’t have a store that carries these sports bras nearby, find an online retailer with a great return policy (ie. Amazon) and order a few to try on returning the ones that don’t work for you.
When you are trying on a bra scoop and swoop your breast tissue up and into the the cup, this ensures everything is in place to be comfortable and held up properly. The most important things to look for in a good fitting sports bra are:
- On the loosest set of hooks the band should be snug but still comfortable and allow you to breathe easily. (Over time the band loses elasticity and you want to be able to tighten the hooks as needed). It should NOT ride up your back.
- The straps should fit snug but not leave red marks, and shouldn’t fall off your shoulders
- The cups should be filled but NOT overflowing.
- If the bra is wired you want where the wires meet between your breasts (the gore) to sit flat on your sternum or as close to flat as possible.
- The wires should trace the bottom of your breast (starting in your armpit but NOT poking you) to where your breast meets your chest. If the wire is poking your armpit or too high between your breasts try a smaller cup.
Don’t be afraid to really test out your sports bra in the change room, give it a good bounce test or run on the spot. It is the only way to know if it’s going to work for you and you don’t want to leave unhappy.
When in doubt, if you ever need fit or product advice the best resource out there is /r/abrathatfits on Reddit. Not only is there a wealth of information on their wiki but the community is excellent at offering advice.
What about you?
Do you have problems finding the right running bra? Have you found the perfect one? Let us know in the comments!
/u/humbypup. “Sports Bra Guide.” May 12, 2013. Accessed February 08, 2017. https://www.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits/wiki/sports_bras.