A 9-time Comrades runner, a Soweto Marathon participant, and other fitness enthusiasts share how they shop for the perfect sports bra

Photo by Jaco Blund
Photo by Jaco Blund

In a 2019 W24 article, I investigated how our sentiments around bra comfort would change if brands actually took the customer's feedback and suggestions into consideration. 

This was after I had come across an InStyle article about a U.S. brand, Knixteen, that surveyed teens about what they "most want in a bra", and "used the survey results and the input of trusted teen influencers to design the said bra. Ask for your customers' demands, and then create the supply to meet them." 

The results revealed that people who wear bras "don’t want or need bras that change their shape, but they do overwhelmingly expect comfort, support, inclusiveness and body-positivity from their undergarments".

READ MORE: If you could reinvent the bra, how would you make it more comfortable?  

In this same article, I then recommended Adidas' Don't Rest Primeknit LUX Bra not only because it was a first-of-its-kind sports bra created with "Adidas’ revolutionary knitting technology", but because it was created using the same approach Knixteen did. 

This sports bra was co-created with Adidas' global network of women athletes, including LA dancer Mette Towley, who took the bra for a spin. 

sports bra
sports bra

Images: Supplied 

I too, took the bra for a spin. My back is about two decades older than I am, so I often experience back pain from either sitting at my desk for too long or after working out despite my itty-bitty size 32A chest, so I got the Adidas Don't Rest Primeknit Lux in an extra-small to see how I would feel after physical activity when I wore it.

I first went for a run in this new hi-tech item of fitness gear, but as someone whose girls hardly bounce anyway, I can't really speak on the gravity control of this sports bra. However, I can say that I felt lighter and not as though I would need to toss it off the second I got home. 

I also tried yoga in this sports bra, and because my A-cups felt somewhat ironed onto my sternum, I did feel more limber, yet secure (this would also explain why it was approved by a dancer). 

Yes, it's a pretty snug fit as it's described as a high compression bra, so I would also suggest buying it in one size up from your usual size.

You can get yours for R649 at Adidas online

READ MORE: Here's why going braless this summer is fashionable AND healthy for you and your breasts  

The day I discovered the right sports bra revolutionised my life, and I am not exaggerating.

Many more women have struggled to find 'the one' when it comes to sports bras, especially those who are a C-cup onwards, and I spoke to a few, including Sarah Swainson, a long distance runner who was a G-cup when she started out. 

But before we get into that, let's do a quick explainer of what the purpose of a sports bra is. 

What is the main aim of a sports bra?

A sports bra’s main objective is to reduce movement of breast tissue. By doing this, you reduce the impact on your breasts and thereby protect the tissues and ligaments from permanently stretching due to the impact of exercise and sport. In theory, it’s simple – reducing the movement leads to less strain on your breast tissue and you avoid pain and discomfort when exercising.

Sarah Swainson shares her experience 

In Sarah's own words.

Firstly, I am a woman and a long distance runner. I have run countless marathons and nine Comrades Marathons, and can really identify with any woman who has had to put on two bras in order to feel supported enough to go and run. I am also the owner of a bra business and have fitted many, many women over the years in sports bras. Actually, they are my favourite bras to fit, as I love seeing women running with support and without discomfort. 

When I started running, I was a G cup and finding something that fitted was virtually impossible. I used to wear two sports bras and a fitted running tank top to try and limit breast movement and reduce pain. 

The day I discovered the right sports bra revolutionised my life, and I am not exaggerating. For many women, participating in sports and exercise is not an option because they feel so inhibited and self-conscious of their breasts. For me, my sports bra is so much more than just a bra, it gives me the freedom to go out and do what I want to do. Whether that is running, climbing a mountain or riding a horse. I determine what I can or can’t do, not my breasts. 

READ MORE: H&M launches a beautiful and functional bra collection for breast cancer survivors

Sarah continues to say on her website that "finding the right sports bra is far from simple and the struggle continues, as we try and find something that helps us feel supported and confident. I have run in many sports bras and so here are my top [two] choices, their features, benefits and reasons why I would recommend them."

Panache Sports bra

The moulded cups offer outstanding support and a defined shape. Most importantly, this bra SIGNIFICANTLY reduces bounce and movement – research shows 83% less bounce. The Panache Sports bra uses an encapsulation design, which means that each breast has a distinct cup and the breasts are totally separated. This bra is a brilliant choice for high impact exercise like running. Breathable fabric helps keep the wearer dry and comfortable (boob sweat is not an issue). It also comes in a non-wired version, which I absolutely LOVE. The thicker band on the new non-wired Panache Sports Bra is fantastic and this is a dream to run in. 

the best sports bra

Freya's Epic sports bra

This bra offers high performance support with full coverage for ladies looking for comfort while exercising. High-tech COOLMAX fabric pulls the moisture away from the skin with a fast drying action. 

sports bra

[Sports] bras are constrictive by design - but sometimes they can be too tight - even when you buy your ‘correct size’.

Plus, more women share their experiences with trying to find the perfect boob security for physical activity 

Purpose: Daily comfort 

I only wear sports bras when I do wear a bra. I always go for a small size, and the elastic needs to be flexible in case I gain weight, however it mustn’t easily get torn. I always go for the options available at Pick n Pay Clothing. They last longer and the quality is great, and on a hot day it doesn’t make me itchy too. The elastic at the bottom is also not too thick that it folds.

Purpose: Running 

I have struggled with finding a good sports bra that is good quality and is reasonably priced as well. Because I have a big cup size and often run, the strength and durability of the sports bra is important for me. However, I always find it expensive to buy the better quality sports bras in multiples. It would actually help if we could be able to buy sports bras in sets so as to not break the bank and still be able to get good quality support for our bodies during exercise.

Purpose: Running 

I’m somewhat frugal but I am willing to splurge on a few things. One of those items are sports bras. I run regularly, so sports bras are an important part of my wardrobe. However, finding the perfect one often feels like finding a needle in a haystack. These bras are constrictive by design - but sometimes they can be too tight (even when you buy your ‘correct size’). I find that I’ve had more success when I purchase items from more established/legacy sports brands like Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Under Armour etc. I’m willing to overlook the price and snatch one or two of a particular make to ensure that I am sorted. I find that bras from these brands last longer and endure multiple wash cycle before they look worn out. I avoid bras that have underwire. Overtime, and after a few washes the wire ‘dislodges’ and it starts to dig into you. I also prefer spandex or lycra to cotton blend sports bras. The cotton blends feel great on my skin, but because of my cup size and my exercise routine they don’t offer the support I need.

Purpose: Gym, boxing 

I’m terrible at selecting bras, and even worse when it comes to sports bras. In fact, I only started wearing them cause a doctor yelled at me when she found out I was working out without one. In my experience (which is very limited), finding a great sports bra is just trial and error. I will, however, recommend that you opt for one with a more precise sizing range. What I mean is, if you can, go for bras that are sized according to your waist and cup/bust size and not solely by the “small, medium and large” designation. I learned this the hard way. I bought three different sports bras, all size “medium”, from the same store. One fits perfectly. The other two, although aesthetically pleasing, do absolutely nothing for me when it comes to function. One is too big, and in the other… my cups runneth over.

Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.