Best Sports Bras for Running

Buyers Guide 2024

Updated on

Finding the right sports bra can be a challenge. With over 250 stores and decades of experience, we fit thousands of women every year for sports bras so they can run comfortably.

Your breasts move in a figure-eight motion while you run; not only do they bounce up and down, but they move from side to side, as well. This movement can cause pain or discomfort, which according to one study, can be a barrier to, or discourage physical activity in girls and women.

Not only can breast movement hurt, but it can also hinder performance. Research done by Brooks and the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth showed women lose four centimeters per stride due to breast movement. Over the course of a marathon, researchers found the extra four centimeters can add up to an extra mile’s worth of steps.

So, finding the right sports bra not only keeps you more comfortable, but can actually help improve your running performance, too. We know that finding the best sports bra is just as important as finding the right pair of running shoes and here are some tips and our top picks for the best sports bra for you.

Finding the Right Size

Bra Fitting Chart

The first step to finding the right sports bra is figuring out what size you need. And that takes some measuring. You should also be sized every couple of years because sizes change—weight loss/gain, pregnancy, fluctuations in hormones, muscle loss/gain and more can all make a difference in your bra size.

Visit us to meet with one of our highly trained and knowledgeable Outfitters to find the best running bra for you, or use our guide below to measure yourself.

  1. Find your band size. Wrap a measuring tape around your back and above your bust line in the front. If you're in between inches, round down to the nearest whole inch. The measurement in inches is your band size.
  2. Measure your bust. Find your bust size by wrapping the tape measure around your back and across the fullest part of your bust. Round to the nearest inch.
  3. Figure out your cup size. After doing steps one and two, finding the right cup size for a sports bra takes a simple math equation: Bust size - band size = cup size. The difference between your bust size and band size (in inches) will be your cup size.
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How to Choose the Right Style Bra

The days of shopping from only one style of sports bra—cotton, pulls over your head, gives you a uniboob look, makes you chafe—are over. All major brands now make sports bras with a variety of different styles and support. That means there’s a sports bra out there for every shape and style.

Here are a couple of factors to look at when choosing your perfect sports bra:

  1. Encapsulation vs. compression. There are two different types of support your breasts can have in a bra, either encapsulation or compression. Encapsulation supports each individual breast, normally in some sort of molded cup. Compression, on the other hand, compresses the breasts closer to your chest. There is no data on whether one or the other is better for you—it’s a personal preference. While we put all of our bras into one category or the other, many use both types of support.
  2. Type of enclosure. This is the next big decision you need to make. There are three main types of enclosures for sports bras, although some may combine these for additional support:
    1. Pullover. This style is similar to the traditional sports bra that pulls over your head. It could have traditional racerback straps or a variety of other strappy designs.
    2. Back Enclosure. These bras are secured by a hook-and-eye enclosure in the back, similar to your traditional everyday bra. Tip - when trying on a bra for the first time, the hook and eye should be in the loosest eye loop. The elastic will eventually wear down in your bra and you can get more life out of it when you then use the other eye loops.
    3. Front Enclosure. Some bras close in the front. This is a great option for people with mobility issues or nursing moms that need quick and easy access.
  3. Activity. Traditionally there have been different support levels for different types of activities. Some of this has been changing (for instance all of the Brooks bras are made for running), but you will need more support for running or HIIT classes than you will for yoga or hiking because your breasts move more. All of the bras listed here are high-impact bras that are perfect for running unless otherwise noted.
  4. Underwire. Some models have underwire, although most do not. We’ve added a separate section for our thoughts on the best underwire sports bras.
  5. Storage. One of the newer features of sports bras is adding pockets or other ways to store nutrition, phone, keys or other essentials while you run. Typically, these are worn by people who run in just their sports bra without a shirt, but anyone can wear them.

Best Running Bra for Large Breasts (DD+ cup size)

Say goodbye to wearing two sports bras at the same time. These great bras are made for those women who are well-endowed. Make sure those ladies stay supported and you are comfortable out on the run.

Enell Sport Bra

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Enell’s motto is “unshakable support for well endowed women.” Support, stabilize and secure those breasts with an Enell Sports Bra. They have designed a bra that is made to help women with large breasts to be able to work out comfortably. In fact, the smallest size they make is a C-cup.

This model has a front enclosure that straps the ladies down, while wide straps to give you additional comfort across your shoulders. Plus, there is full back coverage to give you the most support. The front enclosure is great because you don’t need to contort yourself to get the bra closed, and you don’t have to pull a sweaty, gross bra over your head when you’re done with your workout. Their sizing is a bit different from standard bra sizing, so you need to take your measurements and convert it with their sizing chart.

Brooks Dare Scoopback Run Bra 2.0

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Brooks quit using the name “sports bra” when they redesigned their bra lineup. Now, they’re using the more specific moniker, “running bras.” The new name means if it comes in your size, it gives you the support to run comfortably in it.

The Dare Scoopback 2.0 is great because it has molded cups, so each breast is individually supported. The molded cups also give enough coverage that it doesn’t show if your nipples get hard when you go into an air-conditioned building after a run.

Another perk of the Scoopback is its back closure. Because it closes like your traditional bra, you don’t need to wriggle out of a sweaty brea after your run. Finally, Brooks uses a smooth, moisture-wicking material so it feels great against your body, doesn’t chafe and has strategically placed venting to prevent sweaty boobs.

Anita Air Control Padded Sports Bra

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The Anita Air Control Padded Sports Bra merges functionality and style to give you the support you need on the run. The Delta Pad design ensures maximum support to prevent excess bouncing while you work out. There is also a double-layered cup, making this great for women with larger breasts; the patented foam cup provides modesty and gives you some shape in your workout clothes.

Anita’s sweat management technology makes sure that this bra wicks away moisture, and the ultra-light mesh fabric allows for optimal airflow to keep you dry and comfortable. With adjustable straps and a hook-and-eye enclosure, you can dial in the fit so it feels perfect during your workout.

SHEFIT Ultimate Sports Bra®

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Say goodbye to wearing two sports bras for running with the SHEFIT Ultimate Sports Bra. This front-zip bra has adjustable straps, so you can wear it criss-crossed or scoop back depending on the level of support and style you want. Made to fit cup sizes up to an I, this is one of the most supportive bras out there.

Best Running Bra for Medium Breasts (C/D Cup size)

We’ve picked out some of the best bras for women who have medium-sized breasts. When you are a C or D cup, you need a supportive sports bra to run in, while still providing comfort, so you can forget you’re even wearing it.

Brooks Dare Racerback Run Bra 2.0

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The sleek Brooks Dare Racerback Run Bra 2.0 will hold you and keep you secure during your workouts. Brooks designed the bra using its DriLayer HorsePower fabric, which is smooth, wicks moisture and feels luxurious against your skin.

The new design and straps keep your breasts supported with molded cups throughout the run. Plus, it is so comfortable that you’ll forget you have a bra on and will want to wear it all day.

Brooks Drive Convertible Run Bra

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Change it up with the Brooks Drive Convertible Bra. This bra has the option of changing the straight, scoopback straps into a racerback for a more secure fit or depending on your running outfit that day. Reviewers in our Brooks Drive Convertible review loved this option because the bra fit well either way they wore it.

This lightweight bra has a more compressive fit but still supports each individual breast. There are mesh panels on the sides to provide additional ventilation, and the bra is made with moisture-wicking fabric that is so lightweight you may forget it's there.

New Balance Power X Bra

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Lightweight and comfortable, the New Balance Power X Bra is perfect for women with medium-sized breasts. New Balance designed the Power X with a crossback design that gives you plenty of support and adjustable straps to let you find the right fit for you. Plus, it comes with a secure hook-and-eye back closure that lets you dial in the fit even more.

The Power X bra does a great job of wicking sweat away and feels luxurious against your skin. The soft v-neck style gives it an elegant look while still providing coverage.

Handful Y-Back Bra

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The Handful Y-Back Bra brings you both comfort and support. This bra has soft, wide straps that meet in the middle of your back for a racerback style bra that provides great support for C and D cups. The wide bottom band offers extra support and doesn’t irritate or chafe.

The Y-Back bra comes with removable pads. The slits to remove the pads can also double as pockets to store your key or gel. This looks like the classic sports bra, but it is designed to prevent any uniboob by being slightly gathered in the front and having a slight V-neck shape. This bra looks cute and is great for running.

Best Running Bra for Small Breasts (A/B Breast Size)

It is important for everyone to have their breasts supported, even if there is not a ton to bounce around. Check out our picks for the best bras to support small breasts while running.

Nike Swoosh Sports Bra

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It is a classic for a reason, the Nike Swoosh Sports Bra gives you coverage and support for your runs. This bra can be thrown on under your favorite running top or you can run in the bra by itself. Nike’s Dri-FIT technology pulls sweat away from your skin, so you stay dry and comfortable throughout your workout.

The Nike Swoosh Sports Bra includes removable pads that stay in place when you run. Plus, the pad pocket opens from the top and can double as a storage pocket that is big enough to fit most phones.

rabbit Strappy Pocket Bra

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The rabbit Strappy Pocket Bra is a no-nonsense sports bra that can also carry most phones in the back without bouncing. The bra is super lightweight, wicks away moisture and dries quickly. With its great bottom band with cute rabbit details, this bra is a comfortable sports bra for small chested women.

On Performance Bra

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Swiss engineered to provide coverage and comfort, you can’t go wrong with the On Performance Bra. With a higher neckline and light padding, it provides excellent coverage whether you are running or attending a HIIT class.

The bra is made with a single-piece construction, so there are no wires or seams to irritate you. In our On Performance Bra review, testers loved the sweat-wicking fabric and how easy it is to take off the bra after a sweaty run.

Best Underwire Sports Bras

For those individuals who love a supportive underwire bra, there are some great options out there. These bras have underwire but do not poke or chafe you while running, and they give you all the support you need without any pain.

Brooks Dare Underwire Run Bra

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The Brooks Dare Underwire Run Bra is one of the best underwire sports bras on the market. The sweat-wicking material feels luxurious against the skin, and the individual molded cups combined with the underwire straps reduce movement and bounce to make sure you feel secure.

Plus, Brooks designed this bra to give you a personalized fit. You can change the adjustable straps from a scoopback position to a crossback position.

Panache Sports Bra

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The Panache Sports bra has won many awards for a reason: It works. This bra reduces bounce from your workout and looks cute doing it thanks to the smooth shape and flat seams that look great under any sportswear.

This bra is designed with wide, padded straps and silicone-wrapped wires that add additional support and comfort. The straps are convertible, so you can adjust them for your personalized fit or outfit with both scoopback and racerback options.

Anita Momentum Underwire Sports Bra

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The Anita Momentum Underwire Sports Bra is the perfect bra to wear all day long—from work to workout. The underwire provides extra support and lift, which results in a flattering low-cut neckline. The pre-shaped cups support the breasts and are made with a shimmering metallic fabric, and there’s a breathable mesh back to help with ventilation and ergonomically tailored straps to increase comfort.

Best Sports Bras with Storage

Summer running can get hot quickly, and the last thing you want to do is put on another layer to carry your essentials. Luckily, many bras pull double duty—both working as a great sports bra but also having pockets to carry your essentials while you run.

Brooks Drive 3 Pocket Run Bra

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The Brooks Drive 3 Pocket Bra is the swiss-army knife of bras. It holds your breasts in and prevents any bouncing thanks to compression-style support.

Designers added a few pockets for extra storage: Two side mesh pockets are perfect for gels, and a back pocket fits most phones. In our review of the Brooks Drive 3 Pocket Bra, reviewers said that the phone did not bounce at all while they were running.

The neck sits up a bit higher than traditional sports bras, which, combined with the racerback style, creates a lot of support. This also makes it so that this bra works for larger-breasted. The great fabric wicks away moisture and feels great next to your skin, and it dries so quickly that it’s easy to pull over your head after a workout. The silhouette also works great if you want to run in just a sports bra. Plus, it has removable pads if you want more coverage.

Rabbit UtiliBRA-vo Sports Bra

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Take your phone with you on the run in the rabbit UtiliBRA-vo. This bra looks similar to your traditional sports bra but has a twist with a pocket in the back that holds most phones. The bra also comes up a bit higher in the front than the traditional sports bra and has a soft v-neck style to give you coverage and control.

The wider bottom band of the bra both offers support and shows off the cute rabbit logo for a bit of style. The rabbit UtiliBRA-vo is made with buttery soft material that wicks away moisture and dries quickly. This is a great running bra for people with A/B or B/C size cups.

Best Sports Bras for Nursing Mothers

Pregnancy and birth can do all kinds of things to your body. Most women’s breasts will become larger during pregnancy and stay that way for months, especially if they decide to breastfeed. Plus, support is more important than ever because your breasts weigh more.

Purchasing new bras can be a pain (not to mention expensive). So we’ve picked out some of the bras that can work as both a sports bra and a nursing bra. Whether you are nursing before a half-marathon or just wanting to stay in shape, here are our suggestions for the best sports bras for nursing moms.

Bonus tip: Squirrel’s Nut Butter is great for nipple chafing and is made from all-natural ingredients.

Enell Sports Bra

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Enell Sports Bras specialized in bras for women with big breasts. Chances are that your breasts have grown throughout pregnancy and you might not be used to having such large boobs. Not only are your breasts bigger than they used to be, but they are heavier since they are filled with milk. Enell Sports bras will strap them down, prevent bounce and help you feel secure.

The front hook and eye enclosure work well for nursing because you can open it in the front and still have the bra on while nursing. You also do not necessarily need to undo all of the hook and eye enclosures for your baby to nurse or to pump. The only downside is that trying to get the hook and eye enclosures done up does normally require two hands, but the support you get from this bra combined with the front enclosure definitely make it worth a purchase.

Dare Scoopback Run Bra 2.0

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Brooks redesigned the straps on the Dare Scoopback 2.0, which makes it so that it can work double duty for running moms that want to nurse or pump. The new straps are adjustable by a slider clasp, which allows you to remove one strap and pull down the cup to nurse.

The bra is great for running as well. It does an excellent job of holding and supporting the breasts in each moldable cup. Perfect for when your breasts are full of milk and feeling heavier. The material feels great against the skin and there are minimal seams to reduce irritation. Plus, the moldable cups provide some coverage if you leak a little. The back enclosure allows you to put on and take off the Scoopback Bra similar to a standard bra, so you don’t have to wrestle with a sweaty sports bra after a run.

New Balance Power X Zip Front Bra

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With the New Balance Power X Zip Front Bra, you don’t need to deal with pulling a sweaty bra over your head or pinching at the hook and eye enclosures behind your back. Plus, the front zip enclosure provides easy access when it’s time to nurse or pump.

The wide straps and wide band help support your heavier-than-usual breasts, and New Balance used their NB Dry Technology that wicks away sweat and has a breathable cup construction to help keep you cool. You will feel locked in, supported and ready to go with the New Balance Power X Zip Front Bra.

SHEFIT Ultimate Sports Bra®

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Not only are you trying to feed your baby, but you may also be working out with heavier breasts than usual, that’s where the SHEFIT Ultimate Sports Bra comes in. This bra goes up to an I cup size, so if they have grown significantly you can rest assured there is still a sports bra that fits. The adjustable straps, including convertible straps in the back, let you dial in your perfect fit, while the front zip gives quick and easy access for nursing throughout the day.

Best for Low Impact Activities

Yoga, spin classes, cycling, pilates, barre class and more are great cross-training activities for runners. Although you can definitely use your running sports bra for these activities, you might want a different one for those low-impact days. (You still get a fantastic workout with any of these activities, they just are not as stressful on the Cooper’s ligament as running.) These bras can also be great for everyday wear depending on your attire.

Vuori Yosemite Bra

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Be ready for your next adventure with the Vuori Yosemite Bra. This super cute and strappy sports bra is perfect for hiking, pilates and more. The buttery soft fabric has a four-way stretch so it moves with you as you bag peaks or fold into pigeon pose. Plus, it is moisture-wicking, so go ahead and sweat it out.

Its front provides coverage for you to wear it confidently on its own, while its back is a fun and flattering strappy design. With adjustable straps and a variety of colors, the Vuori Yosemite Bra is the perfect low-impact bra.

Nike Dri-FIT Indy Light-Support Padded V-Neck Sports Bra

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The Nike Dri-FIT Indy Sports Bra is comfortable for low-impact activities and looks good enough to wear all day. The soft fabric is designed for breathability, so it’s perfect for hot yoga or spin classes.

The straps are adjustable to dial in your fit, and it has removable pads, so you can personalize it to your preferences. Plus, this bra is made with at least 50% recycled polyester fibers.

On Active Bra

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From hikes to yoga, the On Active Bra is so comfortable and stylish that you will never want to take it off.

The fun strappy design both looks good and has been ergonomically constructed to make sure that the bra is easy to pull on and take off. The material is comfortable and wicks away moisture so you can get the most out of your workout. Plus, it has light padding to give you just the right amount of nipple coverage whether you are going out for a coffee or walking the dog.

How to Make Sure the Bra Fits

OK, so you’ve made your purchase, but like any clothing item, you need to try it on to make sure that it fits perfectly. Here are a couple of tricks to make sure that you have the perfect fit.

  1. If the bra has a hook and eye enclosure, make sure it is on the bra fits you on its loosest hook and eye option. Since 80% of the support from the sports bra comes from the band, not the straps, you can then use the tighter eyelets to get more life out of your bra as it stretches and wears.
  2. You should be able to fit two fingers, side-by-side, under the band comfortably when you first put the bra on. Any more than that and you need to size down in the band. If you cannot fit any fingers under the band, try a larger band size.
  3. The breast should be fully encapsulated in the bra. There should not be any spillage over the top or the sides. If there is, get a bigger cup size. There also should not be any draping or loose fabric. If that exists, go for a smaller cup size.

How to Care for Your Sports Bra

Investing in a good sports bra is an essential part of running, but you want to make sure you take good care of that investment. Unlike running shoes, you need to wash your sports bra because it will get sweaty and smelly.

Here are a couple of tricks to make sure you get the most life out of your sports bra.

  1. Make sure all enclosures are closed before putting it in the washing machine. Latch all of the hook and eyes, zip any zippers, and ideally put it in a mesh lingerie bag to prevent anything from attaching to it.
  2. Machine wash cold on a delicate cycle. Do not put any fabric softeners in the washer. Fabric softeners leave a film on your clothes that will prevent your bra from wicking away moisture, and they can also trap any odor or bacteria.
  3. Line Dry. Do not put your bra in the dryer. Your bra will last longer if you hang it to dry.
  4. Your bra should not have a birthday. Bras will eventually wear out and you will no longer get the support that you were getting before. Typically, the rule of thumb is 6-9 months, but you should switch out your bra every year for optimal support.

How We Chose the Best Sports Bras

With over 250 stores in communities across the country, Fleet Feet is the largest running store in the U.S. with over four decades of experience outfitting runners with the best running shoes, apparel and gear. We focus only on running and walking gear, so we can be the experts to bring you the best running and walking advice possible.

Not only do we fit thousands of women each year for sports bras to help them run their best, but thanks to 100,000+ runners participating in our local running clubs and training programs each year, we can see firsthand how different sports bras work on different shaped bodies.

Collectively, our experienced team of Fleet Feet editors has tried, tested and fallen in love with hundreds of different running shoes and gear from dozens of the world’s top running brands. With this knowledge, we meticulously pour over the smallest details like fit, comfort, materials, and durability, to decide which sports bras for running are the best. From running shoe and gear reviews to workout tips and inspiration, we are your go-to source for running knowledge and motivation.

With this knowledge and expertise, we’ve tested the best sports bras based on:

  • Purpose. Comparing apples to apples
  • Performance. How well does it do its job?
  • Real-world testing. We put them to the test on real runs
  • Price. Is it affordable? Does its performance justify its cost?
  • Sales. Best-selling models are best-sellers for a reason
  • Availability. It won’t be good for you if it’s not in stock
  • Designer interviews. We ask the people who made it

Standing Behind Our Picks

Shopping for sports bras online is hard. You don’t know for sure how a bra will fit until you try it on. We want to make that easier.

You deserve a sports bra that fits just right. That’s why we offer our Happy Fit Guarantee return policy.

Buy new sports bras from Fleet Feet and give them a try—log some miles, get in a few workouts, lounge around. If you don’t love the way the sports bra looks, fits or performs, send it back within 60 days and we’ll give you a full refund.

Plus, get free shipping on any order over $99, and return shipping is always on us.

Want to try something on in person first? Find a Fleet Feet location near you.