Finding the perfect sports bra is like having your first orgasm: It's so hard to get everything just right, but when you do, it's life-changing. (Yeah, I went there.) Sports bras struggles are pretty much universal—from jiggle-test fails to nipple issues. But these easy fixes will help you find workout bliss.
‘I get serious under-arm chafing’
Choose a seamless style
Kristin Canning, a fitness editor, can’t seem to avoid under-arm chafing from her sports bra during runs. “It especially happens in summer when I’m super-sweaty, and running for many miles,” she says. “[The chafing] becomes super-distracting and painful—it’s the last thing you want to think about when you’re doing a long run.”
To resolve this nasty issue, “Go with a seamless style,” says Gabrielle Porcaro, senior fashion editor at Women's Health. “This kind of bra won’t rub against you as you move your arm.” Many brands will note a seamless fit on the label, but if it’s not clear, look for a bra that appears as if its been cut out of a single piece of fabric (not sewn together on the sides).
Porcaro also recommends finding bras that sit a little lower on your sides, rather than right up against your armpit. And avoid bras that have hardware, like bracket closures on the back—or any decorative details, like lace or mesh inserts (cute, yes, but they can cause irritation).
She says it’s also important to note the kind of tank top you pair with your bra. “Get one with a super-loose arm hole,” to avoid more potential chafing.
With a seamless bra, Kristin says,“When I move around, and do a running motion, I don't feel it at all. My arm just grazes right past it.”
‘I can't find a supportive sports bra for my larger chest’
Buy something in your cup/band size—not just small, medium, large
“I have 34E breasts, and they're all over the place when I work out,” says photo editor Larissa Kline. “I usually wear two to three sports bras because I can’t find anything that holds them in.”
“It honestly discourages me from working out,” says Larissa. "“Because when I do anything that’s too high-impact, my back starts hurting, the sports bra digs in to my shoulders, and my boobs are just not held in place." That's why she usually sticks with yoga, or other lower-impact activities.
To remedy the problem, Porcaro recommends buying a sports bra in your regular band and cup size, rather than opting for small, medium, large, etc. Some great brands for this include Freya, Brooks, and Enell. Opting for an underwire style for extra support can be helpful, too. "And go for brands that have adjustable straps and bands," adds Porcaro, to help customize the fit and support.
Larissa’s reaction to the new bra: “My breasts felt distributed evenly and covered. When I bend over or jump up and down, everything stays in place.” Plus, “I only have to wear one bra.”
‘My nipples show through my sports bra’
Opt for a bra with light padding
Beauty editor Pia Velasco's go-to tactic for bra shopping: "I usually choose bras based on what has the cutest style," she says, noting that she often opts for low-impact yoga bras. They're great except for one issue: "My nipples always show through, and that’s not really a look I want to go for."
One simple solution is to choose a sports bra with light foam padding or at least lined inserts, advises Porcaro. "And padding doesn’t need to be pushup—just a little extra protection." Finding bras made with thicker fabric may help, too.
If you're dead-set on sticking with a thinner bra, there are great band-aid like products on the market that can minimize a nip poke-through. Runners use them to prevent chaffing, but they can be super helpful in this situation, too.
Pia’s reaction after trying on the slightly padded sports bra Porcaro chose for her? "I love this bra so much—it’s super cute, I like the texture, and it protects everything," she says. "My boobs look great, and I have no fear that my nipples are going to come out to play."
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