New sports bras that hold up to the rigors of running.By Lisa Jhung
From the October 2009 issue of Runner's World
Women ask a lot of a running bra. It needs to be comfortable enough to move with them during a run and dry off quickly to keep workouts from becoming sweat-fests. It also needs to provide ample support for their body types without making them feel suffocated. To find out which of the new sports bras best meet these tough demands, we enlisted the input of 26 runners, whose sizes range from A to DD. These are the nine bras that rose to the top.
BEST FOR A/B
For a form-fitting top, the BROOKS PACER SUPPORT TANK ($40) is amazingly unrestrictive. The comfortable tank manages the trick of covering up while remaining lightweight and wicking sweat like a champ. And it does this in style. "The cut looks so good that people complimented my back,"said one tester of the T-shaped racerback. Note: The interior shelf-bra holds A/B cups in place, but it isn't supportive enough for bigger sizes.
Wearing the ASICS ABBY ($42) is a form of flattery. The V-neck and padded cups give shape to smaller chests, and the racerback cut enhances the look of a long, lean back. The bra's mesh panels in the straps, sides, and back provide ventilation relief on hot runs. Still, some testers griped that the extra insulation in the cups and the cottonlike textured-nylon and spandex blend trapped moisture. "It was a little soggy and heavy feeling," said one tester. XS-XL asicsamerica.com
The SAUCONY IGNITE ($35) uses a thin and stretchy fabric blend and open mesh panels to get the sweat off the skin without becoming a sopping mess. Several testers noted how well the lightweight bra wicked moisture, happily proclaiming that it dried off in a few minutes. And the soft material is stretchy, making it easy to get on and off . Lined, encapsulated cups support an A/B cup, though one size B tester complained of jiggling. XS-XL asicsamerica.com
BEST FOR B/C
Testers loved the no-frills CHAMPION COMPRESSION VENTED SPORTS BRA ($33) for its simplicity. And its mesh lining kept them cool in sweltering conditions. One tester said, "I didn't think twice about this bra while running, and that's a good thing." It fits a bit small and isn't as stretchy as some of the other bras we reviewed, which makes putting it on a slight challenge. In any case, it managed to keep everything up to a C cup locked and loaded. XS-XL championusa.com
The surf-inspired look of the ROXY READY SET RACE BRA ($42) won over many testers, with its stylish bottom band, V-neck cut, and bright color. The bra's inner mesh wicked sweat quickly, while paneling through the back, front, and center kept air moving on muggy runs. The overall support ranked high for testers up to a C cup, as did the bra's bonded seams, which minimized chafing. "There was absolutely no movement," noted one. S-XL roxy.com
Tanks commonly employ a simple shelf bra that doesn't always keep excess bounce in check, but the NIKE LONG DISTANCE AIRBORNE ($45) holds everything in place with molded cups and a thick, supportive band around the rib cage. The tank is longer than most and flares out slightly at the bottom so it doesn't ride up and isn't constricting. One tester said, "I wore this to get my postrun coffee and didn't feel like I needed a shirt."
BEST FOR C/D
The CW-X ULTRA SUPPORT BRA ($70) got rave reviews for securing larger chests. "There was absolutely no bounce," said one size-DD tester. Extensive mesh webbing radiates from the center of each cup outward in the shape of a five-pointed star to reduce movement without feeling like a straight jacket. Testers liked the adjustability of the back closure and shoulder straps. "I love that you can tailor it to your body type," said one. 36B/C-42DD cw-x.com
The MOVING COMFORT HELENA ($58) cocoons each breast in a firm fabric that's molded with bonded seams, resulting in a secure hold and no chafing. "I didn't jiggle at all," said one marathoner in training. Testers appreciated the padded, adjustable straps, but they were split on the fabric's breathability—some thought it wicked well, others called it wetsuitlike. Due to a lack of give in the material, only testers who fit the bra perfectly loved it. Others simply did not. 32-40, C, D, DD, movingcomfort.com
The cozy embrace of the ISIS C/D SPORT BRA ($48) comes courtesy of its seamless construction and stretchy fabric blend. One tester loved how the bra felt so much she wore it all day postrun. Testers with C cups found the bra's encapsulating design supportive, while D cups wished for a little less bounce. "This will be my first-layer bra for my next marathon," said a D cup tester. "I just wish it was supportive enough for me to wear alone." S-XL isisforwomen.com
Don't Throw A Fit
Tips to finding a bra that feels just right
Determining the right jog-bra size can be maddening, since one brand's medium fits differently from another's. But each company tweaks sizing based on its own testing. Even bras that come in materials add to the variation, as does how the cups are formed. To get the fit just right, you need to spend extra time in the dressing room. Here are five tips on what to look for in your next bra.
1. BAND AID
You want the bottom band (around your torso) to be even all the way around. Look in a mirror to ensure it isn't riding up in the back—a sign the bra's too small.
2. SIDE EFFECTS
Swing your arms like you're running to make sure the bra doesn't move around and to find how well it stays with your skin on the sides. If it gapes, it's too big.
3. BOUNCE BACK
Look in the mirror while you're jumping to see if there's any movement. If you can see the bounce in the mirror, you'll definitely feel it over time on a run.
4. THE HOLD UP
Slip two fingers under the shoulder strap. If they fit comfortably, and the strap rebounds back to your shoulder when you remove them, you have a good fit.
5. SWING SHIFT
Move around to see if the bra slips or slides when you're in motion. If it does, or if you feel any points of irritation, you'll feel chafing on your next run.
ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP
For additional bra reviews and video fit tips, go to runnersworld.com/sportsbras.
How to figure out what looks good with what you've got
Your sports bra needs to support you—that's the number one goal. But there are definitely design details that go better with some body types than others. For instance, if you're concerned with your back looking flabby, apparel designer Beth Reece says a bra with a narrow back that follows the contours of your spine will look better than one with a wider cut." For smaller chests, Reece recommends a V-neck or contoured cups and padding. If you're large-breasted, a bra that encapsulates each breast individually will eliminate the "uni-boob" look.