Find the best sports bra for you

A good sports bra is essential to a comfortable workout. Find the right sports bra for you’from A-cup to plus-size’with Best Health’s guide to shopping for sports bras

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climber

Your best sports bra is out there

We know proper bra support is important if we want to maintain our perky... personalities... for as long as possible. And of course we know that sports-bra support is crucial when it comes to high-impact fitness activity such as running or Ultimate Frisbee, because the constant bounce strains breast ligaments and increases the possibility of Future Sag. (For his female clients, celeb trainer Harley Pasternak actually suggests high intensity walking instead of running for that reason!)

Yet how often do we see women running along without adequate stability gear (ouch)? The following tips on what to look for in a good sports bra should help-share them with your active sisters.

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moving comfort

Toss out your oldies

Sometimes lack of support just comes down to old bras, says Diane Grundy, a brand manager for Pure Lime activewear. "Heavy sweat breaks fabric fibres down over time, as does harsh detergent and drying at high temperatures," she says. In addition to failing the support grade, old bras can also cause discomfort and chafing. On average she says to expect about six months of heavy wear-daily running, for example-out of a sports bra.

Shown: Moving Comfort Dori bra with compression + encapsulation (for B and C cups), small to extra-large, $55

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freya

Tailor to activity, and shun cotton

Choose your bra according to your highest-impact activity. Weight training won't require the same breast support that running will, but if you run at all, you're covered if you just get a super-support model.

As for material, sweat-soaked cotton can chafe, plus wet fabric slacks off in the support department. Better to go for breathable, moisture-wicking fabric, says Grundy.

Shown: Freya Super Active bra, available in 32D to 38H, 1.866.274.2407

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elomi

Choose adjustable straps, back closures and encapsulation

Pullover or compression-style bras tend to come in sizes small, medium and large. Grundy says they're okay for A- and B-cup sizes, but not for activity with a lot of vertical movement, and definitely not for larger sizes. (Back-closure bras are also easier to put on without dislocating a shoulder.)

"Compression bras just flatten," adds Jennifer Klein, owner of Secrets from Your Sister, a specialty bra-fitting boutique in Toronto. "They don't provide support between the breasts, and in fact create a heavier load on breast ligaments because the pair move as one unit." She favours encapsulation bras, which encase each breast. "You'll get support with upward bounce and back-and-forth swing," she says. (If you want to see where you need support, jump topless and braless in front of your bedroom mirror!)

Shown: Elomi Energizer, available in 34D to 44J, 1.866.274.2407

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purelime

Try on many, and test with movement

You have to compare fit, support and comfort so you can make the best decision for your physique, says Grundy. Don't buy the first one you try.

Klein agrees, and encourages a few key change-room moves to be certain you're getting the support you'll need. "Once the straps are adjusted, reach across your body with each arm to check for chafing. Jump up and down, mimic some of your workout moves, and sit down to make sure the bra is snug but still comfortable if you're doing yoga or bending." The fit has to allow for a full deep breath while it's on the loosest closure. (As the fit gives with wear, you want to be able to move to the inner clasp hooks to maintain support.)

Shown: PureLime sports bra #0091, for moderate to high impact, available in 30A to 40E, $78, 1-800-652-9839

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wonderbra

Look to an expert

So many women wear the wrong size bra every day-what makes you so sure you're getting it right? See an expert for proper measurement and fit. As well, an experienced specialist like Klein is familiar with a number of brands and gets feedback from customers, satisfied and not.

Shown: WonderBra Sports 5127, 34B to 38DD, $41, 1.800.363.0790

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brooks bra

Treat sports bras with care

The right sports bra is a crucial defence against future sag. Be good to the defence and it'll continue to fight for you. A good sports bra means an investment of about $100-think of it as fine lingerie with muscle. Use gentle detergent, hand-wash if you can, and lay it flat to dry. And try not to wear the same bra day after day; sweat build-up or daily washing will negatively affect the bra's longevity.

Shown: Brooks PR Bra, for A to C cups, $44.99

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