Editor’s Note: We reviewed our bra selections on August 30, 2022 and have updated our recommendations to include the newest top-performing models from our most recent round of testing. The sports bras below are currently the best high-impact options for runners.
When it comes to choosing the right sports bra, having enough support is likely your top priority. But how you get that support can really be a personal preference. Some runners love cups with underwire support, but others prefer wire-free. Or maybe you like a little more compression for a super secure feel, while your running buddy wants looser, adjustable bands and straps. The key is finding the right style that supports your cup size. Here’s a cheat sheet on the most popular support features out there so you know what to look for in your next high-impact bra, followed by full reviews of the best-performing models from our wear-testing.
Our Top High-Impact Support Bras
Non-Chafing UnderwireRacerback Underwire Sports Bra Panache Read More
Adjustable CompressionThe Ultimate Sports Bra Shefit Read More
Support on a BudgetThe Spot Comfort Sports Bra Champion Read More
Most ComfortableAirSupport Bra Lululemon Read More
Molded CupsKalenji Comfort Running Bra Decathlon Read More
Just like your everyday, nonathletic bra, some sports bras feature wired cups for support. You’ll typically find them in very high-impact bras designed for cup sizes DD and larger for superior bounce-banishing. The only drawback is that some runners find underwire styles don’t move with the body as well as wireless versions.
Runners seeking an underwire alternative should turn to a sports bra with a molded-cup design. While they typically don’t always match up to wires for support, molded cups do offer more flexibility and often come with removable modesty pads. Molded-cup bras are also great for helping prevent the dreaded “uni-boob” appearance by providing a separated section for each breast.
The easiest thing a bra can do for support is offer you a little squeeze. Some runners opt for tight, locked-in, and bounce-free, while others balk at feeling too compressed. Generally, more compression will mean more support, so the bra will rely less on the other features like underwire or molded cups—but you’ll have to decide for yourself at what point “jiggle-free” starts to feel more like “constricting.” Encapsulation—a defined cup structure—is another feature in bra tech that keeps bouncing in check. Many designs will feature hook-and-eye back clasps, similar to your everyday bra, that let you set the bottom bust band to the right tightness. The same goes for your adjustable shoulder straps.
How We Test
We get it—all the extra doodads on high-impact bras look overwhelming, complicated, or just downright uncomfortable. But they’re not if you adjust them properly. Easier said than done, of course. To guide you in your search for the best support, we did the legwork—literally. All of these bras have been tested by RW staff and a small group of local runners. We evaluate several bras each month and update our list to provide you with the best recommendations for runners of all shapes, sizes, and experience levels.