fashion · running

What’s wrong with sports bras? One more time. ..

1. They are padded and some of us don’t like that. (Well, me at least.) See Padded sports bras and nipple phobia.

So let me be very specific here, what I loathe isn’t the existence of padded sports bras, it’s their ubiquity. It’s their domination of the sports bra market. Try finding a non padded sports bra in my size. Oh, and it shouldn’t have an underwire either. Good luck with that and call me when you’ve succeeded.

2. Some of us (hi Tracy!) want a bra that will dry quickly.

3. They hurt women who run in them. See 75% of Women Marathoners Report Problems with Sport Bra Fit

In the new data from the survey, of the 1,285 women who responded, three-quarters reported problems with how their sports bras fit. Chafing and shoulder straps digging in were the most common complaints, with larger-breasted women more likely to report problems.

In the previous study, which we reported on last April, lead researcher Nicola Brown, Ph.D., and colleagues found that the incidence of breast pain among the women marathoners was high even though 91% of them regularly ran in a sports bra. Brown told Runner’s World Newswire that sport bras don’t offer enough options in shape and construction to match the variety of everyday bras.

“Bra manufacturers need to do more research and work closely with scientists and women to design bras which allow women of all shapes and sizes to lead active and healthy lifestyles,” Brown said.

4. And you’re probably wearing the wrong one anyway. See You’re Probably Wearing The Wrong Sports Bra.

Compression bras are the basic sports bras we’re used to, the ones that give us that “uniboob” shape. But those bras don’t accomplish the main goal of a sports bra: limiting total breast movement. Compression bras only limit the in-and-out movement of breasts away from and towards the chest. But as researchers have found, breasts actually “arc through a complicated figure-8 pattern,” going down and to one side, then up and over to the other side. This movement strains the Cooper’s ligaments, the connective tissue that keeps breasts perky.

5. Oh, and good luck finding one if you’re wearing plus sizes or just have large breasts. Apparently women who wear sports bras just come in 3 sizes: small, medium, and large.

Given the very long comment thread on our post about sports bras–the post about padded ones linked above–women have a lot more complaints about bras.

I sense a business opportunity here.

I’ll take mine in a bright colour, with support, but without padding. My current fave is this one from Oiselle. But with Canadian import duties it’s not cheap.


20 brightly coloured sports bras
from 25 Sports Bras That Will Change Your Life: All Sizes, Prevention Magazine,


15 thoughts on “What’s wrong with sports bras? One more time. ..

  1. I said it on the other post but the UK is light years ahead in terms of bras for larger-breasted women. I’m a 32FF and have plenty of options for both sports bras and pretty everyday bras. US retailers need to sort it out!

  2. My biggest problem with these torture devices is that in order to get enough support I have to wear two at a time. This gives me enough support but then the whole contraption is so tight that I have to have my husband take them off for me because I can’t get them off over my head by myself. I hate padded bras too. I don’t understand spaghetti straps on sports bras either. What is being supported there?

  3. Most of the Moving Comfort sports bras have none of these flaws and they are very easy to find. I have six of them. Not padded, not unibooby, no underwire, dry fast, and go up to very high sizes.

    1. I have two of the Moving Comfort bras myself, and I agree, they fit all the criteria – they even come in both bright colors and traditional white. My only (slight) complaint is that they run $80 a piece, which is why I only have 2. If they would come down in price a bit, I would certainly love to have a few more.

    2. Can you show me where they “go up to very high sizes?” The US website, at least, won’t let me search for any cup size larger than a UK E cup.

  4. I just wanted to say that I really liked to read your post about “nipple phobia”. I think it’s terrible that we are made to feel ashamed of our bodies, just because of the way we naturally are.
    I have been made to feel guilty for not wearing padded bras because my nipples show through my clothes, even when I wear a bra.
    Until recently I thought my boobs were the “wrong” shape because they didn’t look like what padded moulded bras look like.
    It’s brainwashing.
    And when ever you try to take a stand against the nipple phobic society, someone close to you will kick you in the confidence and say: “aren’t you going to wear a bra?” (sometimes the reply is: I am wearing a bra already.)

    Anyway, you have made me feel more confident in my skin.
    So I thank you for that.

  5. Great post! But I can’t stop giggling at the thought that researchers (!!) spent time figuring out how “breasts *actually* move” when we’re striding around… 🙂 I love it! To be fair, I’m not sure I would have come up with the “figure-8” description on my own… may this lead to designing a better sports bra!

    1. I went on a bra fitting course as part of a previous job in a sports shop, and the research was fascinating! They showed us videos of women running on treadmills topless and in various bras, with sensors attached to their breasts to track the movements. Here’s a brief article about some of the things they looked at:
      But what I found most refreshing was to actually be able to talk about breasts. Women definitely need to become louder and more demanding of an adequate product!

  6. I highly recommend sports bras from Change of Scandinavia. They carry bras from 28 A to 40 J (or something like that) and have their own line of sports bras that have no padding, no underwire, and do well at controlling the jiggle!
    The website is (they have stores all over the world but they sadly aren’t everywhere – yet)

  7. I liked the Prevention article, but still didn’t find one that seemed like it would be “right” for me and in a decent price for a stay at home mom. 🙁

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