Solid support: Why a good sports bra will be your best friend
A good sports bra will be your best friend when you're out for a run, but how do you choose one? Zoe Galloway puts some brands to the test
Whether you're an A or H-cup, a good sports bra will become your best friend when out on a run. You'll need to keep your chest secure and reduce any bounce as much as possible, especially if you're running long distances regularly.
This is because continuous breast movement can lead to back pain, soreness and irreversible sagging - your Cooper's ligaments, which give your breasts their size and shape, can stretch or break, and this can't be repaired.
There are two main types: compression bras, which look like crop tops and flatten your breasts against your chest, and ones that have in-built cups, looking much like your regular bra but made of more breathable material.
Generally, compression bras are better suited to those with smaller breasts (A to C-cup). For everyone else, a sports bra with in-built cups is favoured. Sizes and measurements vary across, though, so always check the size guide if you're unsure.
When looking specifically for running, think about the distance. Will you be sprinting or maintaining a steady pace? What style of sports bra do you find most comfortable and supportive?
We ran distances up to 15 miles to put sports bras through their paces, and here are the ones we think suit runners' needs best.
Freya Active Epic Atomic Moulded Crop Top Sports Bra: £42, freyalingerie.com
Catering from a B to H-cup, Freya Active gives the most supportive and comfortable fit out of all the sports bras we tested. It's the ideal option for running because we found barely any bounce when covering distances up to 15 miles, helped by the underwire and supportive cup shape. The back straps can be worn two ways and the thick band with a clasp fastening keeps everything in place. The fabric allows skin to breathe and the design is flattering. There are matching leggings available, too.
Lululemon Enlite Bra: £78, lululemon.co.uk
Now, this one may be expensive but it was a close contender for our best buy. Designed specially for running, this sports bra is super-comfy, stretchy and breathable. The compression style means your chest is kept firmly in place, even with larger cup sizes, while the Lycra fabric means it's easy to slip on and off and moulds to your body shape well. We ran 15 miles and noticed the lightweight material wicks away sweat, too. It's the ideal option for anyone serious about running. Available in four colours, and from a B to E-cup.
Sweaty Betty Ultra Run Bra: £45, sweatybetty.com
Luxury sportswear brand Sweaty Betty has created a running bra that is not only supportive and comfortable, but also looks good. Available up to an F-cup and in two stylish colours, it fits like a normal bra, but the extra shoulder padding and compression style means there's no movement or rubbing, even with larger chest sizes. It's also made from sweat-wicking fabric, so you're kept cool and ventilated on longer runs. We completed 12 miles in this bra and loved how much it reduced bounce.
Asics Zero Distraction Bra: £48, asics.com
From a reliable running brand comes this supportive sports bra. Reducing bounce and coming with adjustable, cushioned straps, you can run for miles without worrying about too much chest movement. The fabric (with Asics MotionDry technology) keeps you cool and dry, while the mesh material on the back allows skin to breathe. The high level of support it gives means you can do high-intensity runs regularly without distraction, and it's easy to get on and off using the standard bra clasp at the back. Comfort levels are good, too, although sizing is confusing - we'd recommend using the size guide to find the ideal fit.
Adidas Stronger For It Soft Printed Bra: £42.95, adidas.co.uk
Switch up your style with this sports bra from Adidas. Adjustable straps mean you can create an X-back or U-back depending on what you find most comfortable, while the rounded neckline and cut-out above the hem band adds a stylish touch. The breathable fabric stops sweat from building, although the fit is a little tighter than others we tested, but good support is provided by the moulded cups and compression design (a good mix for those with a bigger chest size). Make sure you check the size guide before you buy, though, as it can be confusing. Available in blue, too.
Nike Motion Adapt Women's High Support Sports Bra: £47.95, nike.com
This Nike sports bra comes with a compression style that will keep sweat to a minimum on longer runs. It feels secure and comfortable, while the fabric keeps you cool and dry. The racerback design allows for freer movement and doesn't irritate the skin. We think this is the ideal bra for someone trying to build up distance in preparation for a big race. It's available in six colours and in sizes XS to XL.
Freya Active is our top choice as its sports bra is comfy, supportive and affordable. Sweaty Betty has produced a reliable option, too, and we love the on-trend design. But if you can afford Lululemon, you won't be left disappointed.