Pounding the Pavement
When you hit the ground running, it's with a force two and a half times your body weight. No wonder a third of marathoners in a study from St. Mary's University College in London complained of breast pain during training. Finding the right sports bra squelches that ache in 85 percent of women with the complaint.
- A/B cup: Compression-style The North Face Stow-N-Go II racerback with front pocket ($40, thenorthface.com)
- A/B cup: Asics Soriada pullover bra with peekaboo cutout in back ($46, asics.com)
- C/D cup: Lululemon Athletica All-Sport compression bra with crisscross back ($52, lululemon.com)
- C/D cup: Breast-encapsulating Adidas Supernova Racer bra with removable padding ($40, adidas.com)
- DD+ cup: Saucony Curve Crusader bra with adjustable rib band and padded cups ($45, saucony.com)
- DD+ cup: Moving Comfort Maia underwire bra with higher neckline, adjustable gel-padded straps, and hook closure ($56, movingcomfort.com)
Gymnistas, we've got your number: Like you, we heart lifting weights and sweating it out on low-impact cardio machines like the elliptical (each glide translates to a ground reaction force that's slightly more than your body weight, similar to walking) and the stairclimber (a force equal to your body weight). Our sports bra picks provide the moderate motion control that will support you through your drill.
- A/B cup: Seamless Solow Eclon Jersey racerback pullover ($37, solowstyle.com)
- A/B cup: Lightweight Nux Sublime compression bra ($40, nuxusa.com)
- C/D cup: Nike Pro Hypercool compression bra with keyhole racerback ($35, store.nike.com/us)
- C/D cup: Pullover Roxy Cross Back Seamless sports bra ($38, roxy.com)
- DD+ cup: The North Face Bounce Be Gone compression bra ($32, thenorthface.com)
- DD+ cup: C9 by Champion Women's Seamless Cami sports bra with adjustable crisscross straps ($17, target.com)
With a Twist
The real challenge in yoga is keeping your cleavage inside its cups during inverted poses like downward dog. Choose a higher neckline, advises sports bra expert Nicola Brown, PhD, a lecturer at St. Mary's University College. And if you're worried about straps that slip, try a crossback style: A new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise revealed that while crossbacks produced more pressure on shoulders, wearers reported no increased pain.
- A/B cup: Athleta Namaste Seamless compress bra ($44, athleta.gap.com)
- A/B cup: Lightly padded Under Armour Seamless Advantage pullover bra with adjustable straps ($40, ua.com)
- C/D cup: Lululemon Athletica Energy pullover crisscross bra ($52, lululemon.com)
- C/D cup: Champion The Smoothie High-Support sports bra with hook closure and convertible crisscross straps ($38, champion.com)
- DD+ cup: Oakley Continuity racerback ($28 to $35, oakley.com)
- DD+ cup: Encapsulation-style 2XU Ultimate Endurance bra with hook closure ($75, 2xu.com)
Out of the Box
As CrossFit devotees crank out AMRAPs of plyometric moves like burpees and box jumps, their bodies — including the breasts — experience jolts comparable to those in step aerobics (one and three-quarters times your body weight) and gymnastics (more than twice your weight). Try a maximum motion-control sports bra with a higher neckline so you don't spill out while you're catching air — or showboating!
- A/B cup: New Balance The Tenderly Obsessive racerback with side mesh panels ($38, newbalance.com)
- A/B cup: Brooks Versatile pullover compression bra ($34, brooksrunning.com)
- C/D cup: Lorna Jane Comfort racerback pullover with encapsulated cups and removable padding ($60, lornajane.com)
- C/D cup: Seamless Falke Madison pullover bra ($50, available at Equinox gyms, equinox.com for locations)
- DD+ cup: C9 by Champion Women's High Impact sports bra with adjustable straps and hook closure ($22, target.com)
- DD+ cup: Encapsulation-style CW-X Xtra Support Bra III with adjustable straps and rib band ($60, cw-x.com)
Cycling may be a low-impact activity with little bounce, but "there can be a large amount of side-to-side breast movement," Brown says. Plus getting supersweaty at your fave indoor-cycling studio makes finding the right material a consideration: A sports bra study at the University of Portsmouth in England found that an all-polyester style proved less likely to leave you hot and bothered than a poly mix.
- A/B cup: Sugoi Verve bra with lightly padded cups ($45, sugoi.com)
- A/B cup: 2XU Comp Tri compression crop top with mesh paneling ($50, 2xu.com)
- C/D cup: Compression-style Craft bike bra with high neckline and mesh panels ($50, craftsports.us)
- C/D cup: Encapsulation-style Moving Comfort Vero bra with convertible straps and adjustable hook closure ($40 to $42, movingcomfort.com)
- DD+ cup: New Balance Fabulous Framer II racerback with midback clasp ($42, newbalance.com)
- DD+ cup: Shock Absorber Ultimate Run sports bra with encapsulated cups and adjustable straps and rib band ($79, shockabsorberusa.com)
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2013.