Learning Center: Sports Bra FAQs


Sports Bra FAQs

How should a sports bra fit?

A proper fitting sports bra minimizes the movement of your chest. The band should be snug but comfortable, should stay in place and should not chafe or irritate your skin. It should not move around your rib cage. The band should be hooked on the loosest or middle hook(s), not the tightest. If it's hooked on the tightest, then there is no place to go when the bra loosens up a bit. There should be no sign of your breast spilling out of the side of the bra, nor under the arm. Also, there should be no spillage along the neckline of the bra. The neckline part of the bra should cover the top portion of your breast to enhance support and minimize bounce. Remember, a DD or E cup woman cannot completely eliminate movement due to the volume and weight of her breasts. Remember to adjust the straps if that is a feature.

If your breasts are different sizes, how do you fit your bra?

You need to fit to the larger breast if there is a notable difference.

What hook should I be using when trying on a new bra?

Start with the middle and tighten or loosen to get the right fit around the band. It's ok to buy the bra if the band fits the best on the loosest or middle hook. If the most comfortable band fit is on the tightest hook, then try a smaller band size (you do not necessarily need to go up cup size if going down in band size).

What do compression, encapsulation and encapsulation + compression mean?

All bras with any degree of stretch (any amount of Lycra or Spandex) offer some degree of compression. Compression presses the breast against the body and holds (to some degree) the breasts in place. This type of bra is perfect for smaller breasted women. Encapsulated bras are engineered to surround and support each breast individually, as well as provide shape. This type of bra is intended for everyday wear. Encapsulation + Compression is the best option for larger breasted women and most runners in general. These bras offer superior support, comfort and shaping. The combination of compression and encapsulation presses the breasts to the body and gives each breast it's own cup for optimal support and comfort. Some of these bras are available with adjustable straps.

What are the differences between high impact, medium impact and low impact?

HIGH IMPACT means that there is a high degree of bouncing in the activity and the breast is subject to a lot of up and down stress/movement (like running, mountain biking, dance, aerobics).

MEDUIM IMPACT means there is a moderate degree of bouncing. Activities include the elliptical trainer and power walking.

LOW IMPACT means that there is little to no bouncing. Activities include yoga, Pilates and weight training.

Does a high impact bra work the same for all breast sizes?

Basically, yes. High Impact bras offer compression and encapsulation. Remember, high impact needs for larger breasted women are more critical than smaller breasted women due to the volume and weight of the breasts.

What are the benefits of an underwire in a sports bra?

A bra with underwire enhances encapsulation and "holds" the breast securely in place in the cup.

How should underwire feel?

The underwire should feel comfortable and should be positioned right under the breast, not in contact with any part of the lower breast and not on the lower part of the rib cage where it expands. The channel in which the wire lives should be very plush and soft and offer the wire room to move as the body moves. Hence, we don't have the dreaded "poke through".

Is there a "Better" strap (convertible, racerback, adjustable) for larger breasted women?

The most important strap for larger breasted women is an adjustable strap. The more "lift" in the cup, the less up/down movement less bounce. (This is true for all cup sizes.) If you can find a bra that has convertible straps, that is even better. Remember, convertible straps can be adjusted before they are altered.

What are the benefits of adjustable straps?

They allow the bra to lift the breasts and minimize any bouncing. They can also take pucker out of upper part of the cup if that's an issue. They simply offer a better, more precise fit.

Should the straps be adjusted?

Absolutely! This is very important in order to get the best fit and most comfort from your bra possible. Be sure that the straps are not cutting into your shoulders or feel like they are holding most of the weight.

When bras have front zippers, what keeps the zipper in place?

Some bras with zippers have a locking zipper and when in the down position, it will remain in place. The zipper on sports bras has a very strong load ratio. The flap behind the zipper should be larger so it protects the skin from the zipper.

How do SM, MD, and LG sizes translate into cup sizes?

There is no universal translation. Refer to sizing on hangtags and/or on a brand size chart. This information is available from each manufacturer and is provided on our site.

Fit for Thought:

Measuring for your correct bra size is not an exact science. Trying on is the key. Bra sizes, just like other apparel, differ between brands, style and your body type. It may take a few different bra sizes and styles until you find your perfect fit. When you're trying the bras on, put the bra to the test by mimicking the activity you will be doing. Jump up and down, twist side to side, raise your arms over your head and run in place. If you have to pull the bra down or adjust repeatedly, it may not be the right fit.

* Try bras on in the comfort of your own home! Take advantage of Running Warehouse's Free 2 Day Shipping and Free Return Shipping. This offer is valid only on orders delivered within the contiguous 48 states. If you have further questions about sports bras, please send us an email at info@runningwarehouse.com or give us a call - (800) 606-9598

View how to measure for your correct bra size