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A glossary to Sports Bras

This glossary follows on from our article: The run-down on sports bras

Running is one of the most economical sports in terms of equipment, with only one important item, that being well adapted footwear. However, women runners (including recreational joggers) need to make the additional essential investment of a high-performing sports bra.

A glossary to sports bras

Stretch tank tops (otherwise referred to as crop top or cammi), these all-in-one running stretch top and sports bra have become very popular in the last few years, largely eliminating the need to purchase a separate sports bra and singlet.

Seamless bras are bras with no stitching which is the notorious culprit for chaffing problems and bleeding nipples when stitching goes over the nipple area.

Underwire bras, these sports bras include added underwire supports.

Racer backs have cross over straps which secures the shoulder straps allowing for a full range of arm movement.

Front zippers offer an easy-to-put-on option, but beware of zipper chaffing – (make sure the zipper has inside padding).

Hooks and eyes are traditional bra back fastenings.

Wick-lite or Coolmax brand fabrics assure maximum moisture control, wicking away sweat from the body

Spandex, powermesh, lycra are different types of state-of-the art stretching materials

Making your selection

For small breasted women stretchy tank top sports bras are ideal and will provide quite sufficient protection. The only drawback being that these types of tops tend to squash and compress the breasts so that they appear even smaller than they are, a bit like a corset. Large breasted women should opt for a sports bra which offers maximum bounce control. These may be less aesthetic than sexy tank tops, but at the end of the day maximum protection is desirable, and the bigger the breast the more there is to sag if you don’t wear an adequately protective bra. Bras with mesh or underwire reinforcement should be considered.

Remember to always try on a sports bra, sizing might not be exactly the same as your normal day wear bra. Make sure of a snug fit, check for irritant seams, and cheap elastic that cuts into the skin. Try to swing your arms around in the changing room to make sure the bra does not ride up etc.

Most major sports brands such as Champion, New Balance, Adidas, Moving Comfort, Hind Asics include a range of sports bras. Choosing between these brands might be very difficult; a good tip is also check out the large sports retail chains which often have excellent copy ranges. In the UK, Marks & Spencers have a good range of sports bras at affordable prices. One brand to look out for is Shock Absorber who have a very extensive range of sports bras which give their different models impact protection ratings from 1 – 4 and they strive to make their bras very good looking with top tennis player Anna Kournikova endorsing their products .


Teenage budding breasts are especially sensitive and vulnerable. It is a good idea to provide teenagers with a sports bra early on. Tank tops are ideal for them and the young sporting look these provide are good for their age group, they may even use their sports bra tanks as regular bras so you won’t have to double purchase.

Pregnancy and nursing

During pregnancy the breasts increase in size to prepare for breastfeeding. During this time you may experience pain in your breasts whilst running. Apart from probably needing a larger size sports bra, your regular model may no longer be adequate. A good tip is to try running with two bras, even if this sounds ridiculous it is better than having painful breasts. Some sports bra manufacturers such as Moving Comfort and Shock Absorber have thoughtfully come up with nursing models. Whilst nursing, remember it is better to feed your baby before you go for a run, not only to prevent leaking and discomfort, but also because lactic acid can build up in the milk and be disagreeable for your baby.

Other articles in this section related to the Sports Bra:


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