Skip Nav
Sip on This All-Natural and Not-so-Sugary Unicorn Frappuccino
We've Found Your Next Workout
Metabolism-Boosting Rainbow Breakfast Bars

How to Pick the Right Sports Bra

4 Features Your Sports Bra Must Have (From Oprah’s “Bra Whisperer”)

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on POPSUGAR Fitness!

For many, especially the well-endowed among us, choosing bras can be potentially as demoralizing as bathing suit shopping (though for different reasons). The trouble: If you head to a nonspecific shop, you flounder on your own. At old-school lingerie stores, while they know their stuff, you're likely to get felt up by an elderly saleswoman, who smells of Virginia Slims and pungent perfume.

Still, finding the right bra is quite important and, for those of us who work out, a truly supportive sports bra is an essential contraption. Just ask Susan Nethero, the owner of 16 Intimacy stores countrywide and "The Bra Whisperer" endorsed by Oprah et al. We got the 411 from the master on picking the a sports bra that truly fits your body:

You may think you're wearing a perfectly acceptable sports bra.  In fact, you're probably not: "The majority of women today are wearing what we call 'compression' sports bras, which creates stability by pressing down against the chest wall," explains Nethero.  "But that's actually the worst way to get support."


Breast support is essential medically for maintaining firmness and skin integrity, asserts The Bra Whisperer, who has to restrain herself from approaching jogging strangers on the street with bra suggestions: "A huge number of women are experiencing some breast injury from tissue moving up and down or in and out during exercise. We know that 9.5 million women exercise without wearing a sports bra at all — just a bra shelf in a tank top or a regular bra. Without ample support, ligaments get elongated, so there's premature loss of elasticity and, hence, stretch marks. If we can reduce breast movement with a sports bra, we can reduce those effects. It's even more significant than wearing the right regular bra everyday."

That's why Nethero and her crew of trained experts approach bra fitting like a science. If you were to make a complimentary "Bra Fit Makeover" appointment at any of Intimacy's locations, you'd be in for a 45-minute personalized session that would involve answering questions about your lifestyle, re-learning how to correctly put on a bra and even — for sports bras — jumping up and down on a trampoline!

After chatting with Nethero, I was happy to learn that the bras by which my fellow "Fit Like Us" blogger Bari and I both happen to swear — Lululemon's Ta Ta Tamer and Ta Ta Tamer II respectively — seem to fit the expert's credentials for decent options.

Does your bra fit the bill?  Here's Nethero's checklist below:

  1. Cups! It's really important that your bra has cup sizing (as opposed to small, medium or large compression style), so there's support for each breast, just like with an underwire bra. This is important for daily vanity reasons too: pressing the tissue down in a compression bra makes you look wider. Nethero's philosophy is to lift the breasts up and get them centered because it gives more torso length and creates a sense of balance.
  2. Extra Support: Many of the best sports bra are like double bras with additional layers and side panels — these are great ways to get extra support for high-intensity exercises. (Supportive stitching around each breast is called 'breast encapsulating.') If you're doing cardio like jogging, step, horseback riding, tennis — where your movements are back and forth and side to side — that's when you're really going to stretch and strain the tissue at the root near the breast wall without the proper bra.
  3. Moisture-Wicking Fabric: When you work up a sweat from exercise, you can actually trap moisture under the breast that can cause a rash. Make sure your bra is made from a fabric that doesn't incubate that moisture.
  4. Adjustable Straps: You can loosen them when you do yoga and tighten during high-intensity workouts. Either way, straps are integral to creating a supportive environment for your boobs. With a good sports bra, Nethero believes you can reduce bounce by up to 74%.

Great sports bras are actually available up to an H cup, so now you have no excuse. It's too important! "Once you have that strain and damage that makes you lose firmness, it's irreversible except with surgery. Everyone is trying to get fit and healthy and they're actually causing damage to their breast tissue," laments Nethero.

In an ideal world, you'd go in for a fitting and make sure that you're truly choosing the right size. In the meantime, here are some of The Bra Whisperer's favorite options:

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 2.37.43 PM.pngFreya Active Underwired Sports Bra ($60): This UK line goes up to a G cup. They also make bra-sized swimwear, which is great for women with active lifestyles.

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 12.21.10 PM.pngAnita Active Sports Bra #5529 ($69): This German company's new sports bra, available in black and white, recently won the RedDot Award for Product Design.

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 12.28.06 PM.pngNatori Underwire Sports Bra ($48): Natori has a great cotton sports bra, which has a bit of extra space and cotton lining in the cup.

Goddess Sport ($44): Goddess (from the same folks as Freya) is for a fuller, more plus size figure. Their bras go all the way up to H Cup. The fabric inside has an almost terry feeling to it, so very soft.

Lastly .... a SNEAK PEEK!

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 12.37.14 PM.pngPanache Sports Bra (about $68): After three(!) years of research, Panache is launching its sports bra in October/November. They've worked to create a bra — in sizes D to H — that reduces bounce by, wait for it, 83 percent!

Now, that's the breast — ahem, best — yet.

Related Links:

How to Burn 100 Calories- While Barely Trying!
Get Lady Gaga's Abs To Show Off In Your Swimsuit
Sign Up for SELF's NEW Drop 8 Pounds Plan

For daily fitness tips follow SELF on Facebook and Twitter.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Around The Web
Join The Conversation
scarlton07 scarlton07 4 years
i'm wondering where on earth you get these bras? i hope the answer is not "online," since you're supposed to be measured or at least be able to try the thing on. somebody please help before i end up tucking my girls into my pants. lol
CupsandMeasures CupsandMeasures 5 years
My old school lingerie store lady smells quite nice thank-you-very much, lol. But seriously, even for the smaller chested crowd, get fitted for a proper bra, I never trust anything that come in a S-M-L sizing. There is no way that 3 to 5 sizes could support all women. When you bounce around, so do your boobs (in a figure 8 no less). The tissue around your breast could still get damaged. Check out the bounce-o-metre for a good laugh and a cringe (
souzapalooza souzapalooza 5 years
i recently fell in love with the Nike U-Back Swift Bra. It has all the features that are mentioned here. I am a 38D and have to wear the XLC/D size so if you are really well endowed, they might be difficult to find a fitting size. Here is a post about my love of these bras -
Michele-Foley Michele-Foley 5 years
I am in love with my Freya sports bra!
RMF587 RMF587 5 years
I just got the Moving Comfort Maia this week, and I can't believe I've even used the compression ones with my 38Ds. It was a total awakening, and working out is so much more pleasant.
bcn1000 bcn1000 5 years
No moving comfort? At the suggestion of a Fitsugar commenter I bought the Juno bra, and it was life-changing.
likethedirection likethedirection 5 years
Good question, Hilary. I'm interested to see the answer.
hilarysullivan3 hilarysullivan3 5 years
Ahem, what about sports bras for us smaller sized women? Are compression bras okay for people in the A-C range?
Things You Shouldn't Say to New Moms
Nike Flyknit Racer Macaron Sneakers
Is Peeing After Sex Really Important?
Tips For Being Induced Into Labor
Sneakers For Your Zodiac Sign
Traditional Baby Names
The Fitness Marshall "Move Your Body" Sia Dance Cardio
Daddy Yankee Hula Hoop Zumba Choreography Video
Kerry Washington Pilates Workout
Weight-Loss Advice From a Registered Dietitian
From Our Partners
Latest Fitness
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds