Big Girls Bras Guide: Sports Bras - Love Running, Hate Bouncing

Woman in a Sports Bra

Sports bras are a must-have for any woman who wants to be comfortable and supported while working out, playing sports, enjoying an active lifestyle or even just running errands and doing every-day tasks.

The right sports bra will give you the support you need; especially when you match the sports bra to the activity you're doing.

Many women prefer sports bras to regular bras for running errands and hanging out around the house because they're so comfortable.

But why is this? How do sports bras work, and what do you need to know when you're shopping for one?

Here at Big Girls Bras, we've got the know-how to give you the real scoop on sports bras so you can make the most of whatever sports bra you wear.

Why Wear a Sports Bra?

The invention of the Sports Bra was truly an amazing, liberating, empowering moment for women. Before sports bras came along, active women had to endure painful bouncing and the unwanted attention and premature sagging that came along with it.

Since that fateful time, sports bras have evolved from the original jog bra - literally two jock straps sewn together - to an entire industry dedicated to incorporating the most supportive, comfortable, fabrics into some incredibly engineered and highly tested designs.

Sports bras are now designed for the different support levels women need according to activity and the industry is also now beginning to understand the different needs of varied sizes.

Here at Big Girls Bras, we've hand-selected the best of the best and break it down for you so you can find your perfect sports bra and get back to action.

What Types of Sports Bras Are There?

Regular bras are great for normal, every-day activities. If you want a bra to give you a flattering shape under your work clothes, or to look great under a t-shirt, the key is to finding the right bra for the outfit and your bust type.

But for sports bras, there's less emphasis on shaping, and more emphasis on support. Many sports bras actually compress the bust in order to help hold it in place while you're active. This gives you the "uni-boob" look, but the breasts are less likely to bounce around when they're tightly compressed. This is why many sports bras have this type of shaping for more active styles. (Compression style sports bras)

Less active styles, popular in low-impact activities such as yoga, walking, or just for every-day wear, typically provide a bit more shaping, or simply provide the comfort of soft cloth without a lot of seams, panels or uncomfortable straps. (Encapsulation style sports bras)

Many women perceive this as more comfortable than regular bras, and prefer to wear them on the weekends or after work, when they don't need the shaping of a more structured bra under work clothes. (This is a false perception, by the way, ladies - if your bra is properly fitted and is a design that's good for your preferences, it can be just as comfortable as a sports bra!)

What are Impact Levels?

When you're shopping for a sports bra, you'll see bras designed for low-impact activities like yoga in the same category as bras for high-impact activities like running or other cardio.

While these may all be sports bras, they don't all work for all activities.

If you're shopping for a sports bra for a specific activity, look for a sports bra designed for that activity. The sports bra for running is going to have a much more rigorous support system than one designed for yoga.

Not all sports bras are made alike, and matching the right sport bra with the right activity matters.

Figure out what you want to do with your sport bra before you go shopping, and find the right bra for your exercise requirements.

Generally speaking, exercise and physical activity can be grouped into impact levels based on how much they will make you bounce.

Low impact is great for leisurely walking, weight training, biking, gardening, or yoga.

Medium impact would include power walking, hiking, skiing, golfing, skating, or elliptical training.

High impact includes running, aerobics, boxing, kickboxing, mountain biking, horseback riding, playing tennis, racquetball, volleyball, or soccer or other intense workouts.

What Sports Bra do I Need?

The two most important factors in getting the right sports bra are size and exercise impact level.

Making sure you have the right size is important because a sports bra that's too loose will be ineffective and one that's too tight will be too painful to wear. It's best to get a fresh fitting every time you buy a new sports bra to ensure it will be a perfect fit.

Once you've got your size down, think about what activities you'll need your sports bra for. Generally speaking, exercise and physical activity can be grouped into impact levels based on how much they will make you bounce.

What About Sports Bras for Large Breasts?

Women with large breasts need support that's specifically designed for their bodies. Traditional sports bras work by compression, flattening the breasts as one unit as close to the chest wall as possible. This can work fine for smaller breasts or low impact activities, but the higher impact your exercise is and the larger your chest is, the more support you will need.

New sports bra technology has brought about encapsulation support. Encapsulation (molded) separates the breasts and supports each one individually within its own cup; encapsulation and compression are often used together for extra support.

Sports bras designed for larger breasts usually also have other distinct features, like comfortable underwire support, moulded cups, wide padded straps, hook and eye closures, and wide underbands. Check out some of our favorite sports bras for large breasts.

When do I Replace a Sports Bra?

If you've been exercising in a regular bra, it's a great time to see what a difference an athletic bra can make. Most quality sports bras are made with light weight moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you cool and dry while you're working out. Sports bras keep breasts from bouncing significantly more than a standard bra can. And sports bras are designed to prevent chafing.

If you're already wearing a sports bra but notice that the fabric is pilling, the fit seems looser, or that your breasts seem to have more movement during exercise, it's time for a new sports bra.

A basic rule of thumb is that no well-used sports bra should celebrate a birthday! Find the best sports bra for you here.

How do I Find the Best Fit?
Get the best sports bra for your body!