Best Sports Bras Review – Consumer Reports

Don’t focus on size. This is hard in the era of online shopping because you can’t wriggle into 20 not-yet-purchased bras in a dingy, fluorescently lit fitting room to find one that fits. So if you can swing it, order a couple of sizes and make sure the company you’re ordering from accepts returns for refund and, ideally, pays for return shipping.

Do focus on the fit of the bra’s band, which provides the foundation of a bra’s support. “The most common fitting mistake is that women wear an underband that’s too loose,” says Wakefield-Scurr. The band should fit firmly and snugly around the ribcage, but it shouldn’t leave painful red marks or constrict breathing, either. When you pull at the band, it shouldn’t stretch more than 2 inches away from the body; you can also test the band by the comfort with which you can fit two fingers beneath it. If you can’t fit two fingers beneath the band, it’s too tight. Any more than that, it’s too loose. Nor should a bra ride up in the back, or slide around when you raise your arms, both of which, again, indicate that you need a tighter band. When you purchase a bra, ideally, you should be able to use the loosest hook, as bras stretch out with time, and once that happens, you’ll need to move to the tighter hooks.

Also consider the following.

Shoulder straps are critical, too, especially if you’re doing a workout that includes a lot of arm movement, according to Wakefield-Scurr. Tank-style straps can slip off the shoulders more easily than a racer-back or cross-back style, so they might not be as appropriate for any workouts with a lot of upper body motion. Bra backs that come up higher on the spine offer more support than straps that sit lower on the back. And wider straps, whatever their style, will distribute weight more evenly and thus will offer more support than skimpy straps.

Adjustment features themselves don’t offer support — you can theoretically find a perfect compression-style bra with zero adjustment features — but they do make it more likely that you’ll find a bra that fits you well. Especially if you struggle to find a sports bra that fits you straight off the rack, look for bras with wide, adjustable bands; adjustable straps; convertible straps; and removable cups, to suit your workout style and body type.

Cups should fit smoothly over the breasts. Pinching, bulging, and spillage indicate that the bra is too small in the bust; if you’re trying on a bra with cup sizes, go up a cup size while keeping the same band size. If the cup gaps or wrinkles, it’s too big, and you should try a smaller cup size. Bras sold in straightforward small, medium, and large sizes may be more difficult to accommodate your body if the band fits but the cup doesn’t (or vice versa). And as much as it’s fun and sexy to have low cut sports bras with lots of cleavage, more coverage means more support.

Construction: Loose or crooked seams indicate that a bra is poorly made, so it might not offer long-lasting support. “One of the things I like to do is stretch the cups and the shoulder straps with my hands,” Sokolowski says. “If they are too stretchy, the bra is unlikely to be supportive.” Fine for lounging, but maybe not for spin.

Your workout: When you’re trying on a bra, perform abbreviated version of your workout. Do a downward dog or a plank, to ensure that your breasts don’t spill from the cups. Do a burpee or a jumping jack, to check that your bust isn’t bouncing uncomfortably, and that the straps stay on your shoulders as you move your upper body.

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