Help me find a better fitting sports bra
September 9, 2017 5:50 PM   Subscribe

I just ran my second ever 10K today and am sitting here in pain with a pretty bad rash on my sternum from my sports bra. Help me troubleshoot and find a better bra for my needs.

My current sports bra is a Brooks Fiona in 32 C, purchased on a whim because it was on sale at my running store and I figured it'd be better than the pullover Target ones I have. It's definitely better and was working fine for shorter runs but now, not so much.

My non-sports bra size varies depending on brand from 28DD to 32C/D. My measurements are 30"band, 35" around the fullest part of my breasts right now (in a full part of my cycle), 32" around the top of my chest under the armpits. If I put those measurements into the title nine bra calculator it says I'm a 32D but conveniently they don't seem to sell bras in a band size smaller than 32 so I'm not 100% sure I trust that result.

The chafing I'm experience now that I'm going distances longer than 5K is right in the center of the band between my boobs. It causes a rash that stings in the shower and currently hurts enough that I'm staying home tonight so I don't have to put on a bra. It's not fun.

I suspect that the issue is the cup size for my current bra is too small so it's pushing the band out and creating space for it to rub, but I'm not sure. The band is also not a particularly soft fabric. I have the bra on the loosest hooks and tightening it feels definitely too tight (like, painful to breathe tight).

Are you a similar size to me and run longer distances? What are your favorite bras and in what size?

I'd prefer to avoid underwire, though all my regular bras are underwire so if that's really the way to go I guess I can give it a shot. I don't care about modesty padding - if people can't handle seeing the outline of my nipples when it's cold, that's on them, not me.
posted by misskaz to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Before buying new bras, have you tried using body glide on the area where the rash appears?
posted by Brittanie at 6:06 PM on September 9, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm a bit larger than you, I wear ~30FF, but my favorites have been the Anita Active bra and Shock Absorbers Multi-sport Max Bra, which are both wireless. The shock absorbers bra runs TIGHT in the band, I measure 28 and size up to 30, and I may go for a 32 in the future. Panache is very popular and it comes with wires and wireless. With your measurements, you may want to try a 30DD or 30E depending on the brand. If you don't already, try the bra on upside down first to see if the band is the right size, if it feels right then and too small when you put it on normally, then its a too small cup. These are all generally available on amazon, I use prime so it makes ordering and trying a number of size pretty easy. Reddit /abrathatfits is also a great resource for finding a good bra.
posted by florencetnoa at 6:08 PM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was also going to suggest Panache. I'm not much of a runner. I have an on-again-off again relationship with couch to 5k. But I'm very experienced at having boobs. The panache kept my 32Gs snug and comfortable.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:29 PM on September 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I recommend the subreddit /abrathatfits. Those ladies are amazing.
posted by bilabial at 6:35 PM on September 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm not genetically equipped to answer the question, but the folks at The Sweethome posted their sports bra reviews and that might be helpful?
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 6:47 PM on September 9, 2017

Glide before longer/sweatier runs will help a lot. Your band must be bouncing around some and there has to be something funky with the fit. I really recommend going to a real specialty bra store for a proper fitting and seeing/trying what they have on offer, since brands that work well for some people do not work well for others. The only department store I would trust with this is Nordstrom.

I really liked the Frog Bra from Title 9 back when I was anti-underwire. It has a super wide band of elastic at the bottom and will keep things very snug. It's a huge smoosher, though, and doesn't keep your breasts separate the way an awesome underwire sports bra does.

If you decide to get properly fitted and go for underwire, which I have decided is necessary when I run, the basic Wacoal and Panache fasten-in-the-back bras are my gold standard for encapsulating bras that won't let me bounce and won't get soggy. I speak as a 32F who had problems with chafing in the past and does not now. At least find a place where you can try one on and hop around; if you are mostly used to boingy pullover things from Target you will be shocked what a difference a good (and yes, expensive, but worth it) bra makes.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:54 PM on September 9, 2017

So you know when searching, that bra is sold by brooks, but is a Moving Comfort brand bra.
posted by atomicstone at 8:55 PM on September 9, 2017

I've found that a larger band size is more comfortable for running, and sports in general. I know, I KNOW. But if I buy my "size" I will pass out or chafe plus a tight band makes me belly breathe because it constricts the rib cage and you don't want to do that when you're exercising- very bad for the back. I buy a large band, smaller cup and it's way better. My shoulders are engaged anyway so it's not a big deal to wear a bra that fits that way while I'm active.

Most of my bras are a 32 or 34 band but I buy 36 minimum for sports bras. I want them not quite pulling up over my boobs but definitely not tight.

I have huge boobs for anyone who is wondering. It works for me.
posted by fshgrl at 11:45 PM on September 9, 2017

Berlei and Nike bras are my favorites. I have a tiny band size and both work for me. I'm also thinking that one with a clasp is your best bet.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:19 AM on September 10, 2017

I always had trouble with Moving Comfort bras (before they were bought by Brooks) because of the ribbed fabric on the band. I am not sure if that one has that feature since I stopped buying them several years ago. I would try to find something with a smoother band - after Brooks/Moving Comfort I tried Lululemon's (ugh the name I know) 'ta ta tamer' and I found that worked much better for me in terms of avoiding chafing there. When I was running I was a similar size to you though a bit larger. And yes, seconding BodyGlide. For me both a smooth band and BodyGlide were necessary for me to avoid chafing.
posted by matcha action at 5:36 AM on September 10, 2017

matcha action: Yes! the band is ribbed and I think that's part of the problem.

I haven't found Body Glide to be useful for this or for chub rub between my thighs, unfortunately. Maybe I sweat too much or am using it wrong or something.
posted by misskaz at 5:44 AM on September 10, 2017

I've had that issue with sports bras that I'm otherwise pleased with & I find that this tape does the trick- I usually just put it on the bra itself, on the part of the band that chafes. Stays put during the run but comes off easily afterwards. Handy for blisters too.
posted by yarrow at 9:41 AM on September 10, 2017

I use corn starch to reduce chafing, and you can get bodyglide. A better bra is definitely in order, but sweat happens and will cause chafing.
posted by theora55 at 10:13 AM on September 10, 2017

Feet issues have limited me to low-impact exercise, for which Brooks/Moving Comfort works OK.

But the funny and perceptive bra blogger Sweets of says that the Enell bra is her savior during half marathons.

It's a non-underwire bra that looks like a crop top and closes in the front with hooks and eyes. According to Sweets, who generally wears a 34GG/34H, it not only everything in place but also spreads the weight out over a greater surface area, rather than relying on a narrow band to do all the work.

It has a seam that Sweets found irritating, but she's dealt with it by wearing her Enell inside out.

Enell has its own sizing system (00-8). I took a quick look, and you would wear a size 0. (If you have any questions, they're apparently quick to respond; they also do custom orders to address specific requests.)
posted by virago at 11:39 AM on September 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Missed the editing window: That should be "it not only holds everything in place but also..."
posted by virago at 11:47 AM on September 10, 2017

Just another vote for the Enell, even though after my last two workouts, I've had a bit of chafing in the same place you mention. But I've had it for over a year, and it's held up fantastically, so I don't necessarily blame the bra for the chafing. I suspect it just might not be the right fit for me any longer.
posted by pyjammy at 1:41 PM on September 10, 2017

I have the exact same bra and very similar measurements. My sternum is raw after long runs, even with copious amounts of bodyglide. I have two of the Fiona bras--one is black and one is pink. For some reason the black one chafes much worse than the pink one, although the pink still gets me. Also, making sure they are squeaky clean before running helps--any leftover sweat residue from a previous run (hey, some of us don't have laundry in our apartments, OK?) scrapes me up more. I've heard that using the Band-Aid blister cushions helps--I haven't tried it yet myself but plan on doing so this week. I'll report back.
posted by Fuego at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2017

Do you live near a Title Nine or a similar store? They'll do fittings for sports bras.
posted by radioamy at 3:02 PM on September 10, 2017

Circling back to note that I misstated Sweets' bra size: She wears a 32GG or 32H and fluctuates between a Size 2 and Size 3 in the Enell.

The bra is tighter in black than in lighter colors. This is A Thing with black bras and is related to shrinkage during the dyeing process.
posted by virago at 3:37 PM on September 10, 2017

Definitely recommend going for a fitting if you can - I'm a similar size to you, have have had chafing and non-chafing bras and the one I got in a bra shop after being fitted is the best (actually also good are the cheap crop top ones I got in Lidl, but that's probably more by luck than judgement).

In the meantime, if you have to wear a bra while you're still sore, I've used compeed (blister plasters) there before and it was blissful relief. Just don't rip them off, wait til they fall off, or soak them off in the shower!

Yours, returning right now from my first ultramarathon with underpant chafe in spots I've never thought to lube before...
posted by penguin pie at 6:01 AM on September 11, 2017

Reporting back: finally bought some Nexcare Waterproof Blister bandages and put them where my bra band was chafing during my runs. Zero chafing during my last 9 mile run! Worth a try if you want to keep using your current Fionas.
posted by Fuego at 7:52 AM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Similar size boobs, my favorite running bras are Luluemon... expensive, but they seem to last (I have one that's at least 5 years old and is still going strong). They make a couple specifically for larger boobs too, which I have one of and I like. I've had success with the "Energy" bra, the "Run On" bra and the "Free to be Serene" bra (this is the one designed specifically for bigger chests). I usually wear a size 10 in their bras, and am a 34DD, if that helps on sizing. I run in all three and they work well without chafing.
posted by annie o at 1:55 PM on October 1, 2017

Just looping back for anyone following this: I went to a specialty bra store and tried on at least a dozen sports bras. I was surprised how many of them just completely sucked and didn't fit me, including the vaunted Panache. But I did end up dropping coin on two bras: the Freya Sonic (underwire) and the Anita Momentum (not underwire), size 30D in both.

I've run a couple times in each so far and they seem to be fine. No chafing, at least nothing at the level that causes a painful stinging rash. The Freya has a J-hook to convert to a halter which really reigns my boobs in, and the Anita has a cool looking shiny fabric and mesh sides for breathability. I like them both for different reasons, and it's nice to have options now. Plus they are both encapsulating bras when I'm used to compression ones, so they make my chest look *amazing* -- which is dumb thing to care about but for some reason the way they support me seems to encourage better posture when I run, so I'll take it.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and commiseration!
posted by misskaz at 8:59 AM on October 22, 2017

« Older Oral minoxidil: recipe for a hairy disaster?   |   We have a plinth next to our driveway. What should... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments