Runners World; Courtesy Brooks
Large-breasted runners face potential back pain, bouncing, and chafing with an ill-fitted sports bra. The goal is to find a supportive bra that moves with you, but minimally enough that it doesn’t rub and create friction… all without the suffocation of a tight band or pinch points.
Dr. Owen Legaspi is a based in New Jersey. When it comes to the importance of a supportive bra, Legaspi says: “Large-breasted women are predisposed to having rounded shoulders and an increase in , a forward-leaning posture.” He explains that this affects the lumbar curvature, which can be a cause of low back pain, especially for runners.
This makes a supportive, well-fitted sports bra even more important. We recommend looking for a model with comfortable, durable fabric, wide straps to avoid digging into skin, a cross-back design for added support, molded cups, and wicking properties.
Best Running Bras for Large Breasts
Dare Crossback 2.0 Bra Brooks
Advance Bra Athleta
Most Effective Compression-Style Sports Bra
Infinity High-Impact Sports Bra Under Armour
Tlrd Impact Training High-Support Bra Adidas
Drive Convertible Run Bra Brooks
The Expert: I am an avid trail runner, cyclist, climber, and hiker with a decade of outdoor-industry writing and field testing experience. I wear a 36D bra, and I’ve had to figure out (through trial and error) the best bra for activities with varying degrees of impact. I wear a different sports bra for most activities and understand the varying degrees of support needed for cycling versus running versus multi-day trips. I also wear sports bras daily, as I find them more comfortable than regular bras.
Lifestyle and fitness writer Stacey Freeman contributed to research and sourcing for this article.
What to Consider When Shopping for Sports Bras for Large Breasts
Sizing Isn’t Universal
There’s no universal sizing for sports bras, so check the manufacturer sizing charts and measure yourself to start your search, but know that it’s not an exact science, and the bra that feels right is the best option regardless of what the tag says.
More Running Gear: • •
Balance Support and Comfort
Sports bras made for larger-chested people tend to be high-impact, which can feel uncomfortably constrictive. The best sports bras for larger breasts will balance wide shoulder straps, chest band, and molded cups to provide support without pinch points.
Closures and Adjustments
Yanking a sports bra over your head can be difficult after sweating, and most larger-sized sports bra models offer a front zipper or a hook-and-eye clasp in the back. The hook-and-eye makes the bra easier to take on and off and also allows for a customized fit. Both of these features help prevent the sports bra from getting stretched out during dressing and undressing as well.
Even though we love sports bras for daily wear, they also serve a key purpose for workouts, which means breathability and ventilation is critical. Look for a wicking, odor-resistant fabric, sweat-resistant bands, and ventilation in the form of mesh cutouts or strategically placed ventilation areas.
Compression Vs. Encapsulation
Compression and encapsulation are the two ways to keep breasts from moving around during a workout. Compression bras function as a band that flattens the breasts to keep them immobile. The challenge is finding a bra with a band that isn’t too tight. Encapsulation creates stability by keeping the breasts separate and stable in individual cups.
Compression bras are the more common of the two designs and work well for women with smaller breast sizes. As cup size increases, compression bras can create a uni-boob or result in less support as the breasts sag over the band.
Some sports bras come with underwire cups, others with molded cups. It’s personal preference, but molded-cup bras have become more supportive in recent years, and can feel more comfortable with less material and a welded design that offers support without increased tightness.
A sports bra should be form-fitting, but not too tight. Fit your sports bra by moving your breasts so they are sitting squarely in the cups and aren’t pushing out the sides. There shouldn’t be too much excess space where the top of the cup meets your chest. Next, adjust the straps to leave enough room for one finger to fit under the strap. If bra straps hug the shoulders too tightly they can cause , a breakdown of the skin caused by sweat and other moisture. The underband should sit level at the front and back without riding up and shouldn’t feel constricting around the chest—an easy way to gauge this is if it leaves an indentation after your workout.
How We Selected
For this selection of sports bras, we visited retail shops, spoke to experts and bra fitters, and took our own experience and accumulated experience of runners in our communities. Bra choice and fit is personal, and not all of these bras will work for everyone. But there’s enough variety in style and fit that we’re certain there’s something in here that will work for you and your running and training.
Dare Crossback 2.0 Bra
|Material||63% nylon, 37% spandex|
Most Effective Compression-Style Sports Bra
Infinity High-Impact Sports Bra
Tlrd Impact Training High-Support Bra
|Material||79% polyester, 21% elastane|
Drive Convertible Run Bra
|Material||72% polyester, 28% spandex|
Best for Lower-Impact Activities
Plus Absolute Sports Bra
Best For Super Sweaty Runs
Run Times Bra (High Support)
|Material||59% nylon, 41% elastane|
Best Underwire Option
Dare Underwire Run Bra
|Material||63% nylon, 37% spandex|
Best Combo of Softness and Support
Running Essentials Sports Bra
|Material||91% polyester, 9% elastane|
Best Encapsulation Model
Sport Non Wired Racerback Sports Bra
|Material||80% polyester / nylon, 20% elastane|
RW: What do people with large breasts need to look for that other sports-bra wearers might not?
MS: Large-breasted athletes and runners need to consider extra support to minimize bounce and pain associated with extra movement during exercise. But this comes with the challenge of finding a supportive sports bra that doesn’t rely on suffocating compression. My go-to is the Brooks Dare Crossback bra, which has wide, welded straps that don’t deteriorate, stretch, or pinch. I look for encapsulation models that hold each breast separately without crushing them. People with larger cup sizes than me also might want adjustable straps and a hook-and-eye closure for a more custom fit.
RW: How should I care for my sports bras, and how long should they last?
MS: Hand washing your sports bra after every wear using a gentle soap or laundry detergent designed for delicates can help prolong its life. If you don’t have time for this, many antimicrobial fabrics allow for more than one wear between washes. Fabric softeners can damage certain fabrics, especially lycra / Spandex, so avoid using those in your wash cycle. Lastly, let your sports bra air dry rather than running it through the dryer unless care instructions specify otherwise.
If you’re wearing your sports bra a few times a week, count on replacing it every six to 12 months. Once they lose their stretch and shape they won’t be beneficial for high-impact workouts, and can become uncomfortable. Look for signs of deterioration, including the bra not regaining its shape after washing, the fabric showing signs of wear, or the band itself stretching out.
RW: How many sports bras should I have in my rotation?
MS: I have a lot of sports bras in my rotation. Most of my use is medium-impact, so I have several that work for medium-impact workouts, a few lighter styles for regular wear and yoga classes, and several high-impact sports bras that I wear for running. If this seems excessive, I recommend having at least three, one low-impact, one medium-impact, and one high-impact. That way you can keep the rotation fresh and use each sports bra for its intended use and type of workout.
Maggie Slepian is a full-time freelance writer in the outdoor industry and has tested gear professionally for almost ten years—she is an avid backpacker, trail runner, bikepacker, and horseback rider and has thru-hiked thousands of miles on the Appalachian, Colorado, and Ouachita trails, along with backcountry travel on terrain including coastal trails, the desert, and high alpine peaks.