No piece of gear is more important for a woman runner than a sports bra. Running a mile everyday barefoot may lead to a few callouses, but that same run in a bad bra can cause chafing and tearing of pectoral muscles.
When shopping, talk with the salesperson (or read the catalog) to find the right support for you. Once you have a few options that meet your support, color and cut criteria, make your final choice based on these crucial details:
I have a small build, so 1/2- to 3/4-inch straps are perfect for me. If you want more support, look for a wider strap but be aware of where it hits your shoulder.
They are small things, but the placement of the seams along the edge of your sports bra is important. A badly placed seam can chafe the arm, sternum or shoulder. I like where Lululemon placed their edge seams because, no matter what I'm doing, I never rub against them.
Unless you like looking like you're freezing or on high alert, look for a bra that either has some padding or is so constricting, nothing is getting out (I usually go for option 1).
I own several of this Champion bra for three reasons:
- The cups are slightly padded, preventing high beaming
- The front also is molded to separate and hold, giving the wearer a more feminine shape
- The seam for the trim is slightly offset, behind the armpit (see circle)
Caveat: the elastic trim on this bra is exposed on the inside and can become rough with use. The black bra recently chafed a red ring around my rib cage.
As we head into summer, fabric replaces layers in importance. Look for wicking materials that are cooler, stay fresh looking longer and dry quickly. Avoid cotton and thick, spongy padding; both will soak up sweat, chafe and weigh you down.
A few of my sports bras are a tank style, which is great if you want more coverage. The tank is also a great core layering piece in the winter.
Hi Tech: My Puma and Lululemon bras are the only ones I own that use silver thread in the bra to help fight odor. If you really use and abuse your gear, details like this make a big difference.
Good luck shopping and happy running!