Eight out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size sports bra, says Heather Cvitkovic, a product manager at Moving Comfort, the women's fitness clothing company that sells more sports bras than any other brand. But when it comes to choosing a sports bra, size isn't the only thing that matters.
"The style of bra you wear needs to fit the type of activity you're doing in it," she says.
A compression bra, one that presses the breasts against the chest wall to restrict movement, is best for small-breasted women who do low-impact activities like swimming. A bra that combines compression with encapsulation — semi-molded cups — is better for women who have larger breasts and need more support than they will get from compression alone. And an encapsulation bra — a style that "lifts and separates" — is best suited for larger-breasted women who do medium- and high-impact activities such as running or jumping rope.
No matter which style you choose, "the bottom band should fit more snugly than a lingerie bra does because that's where the support comes from," says Cvitkovic. You should be able to take a deep breath without feeling uncomfortable, she adds, but it should feel tight. The bottom band should also lie flat and straight across the back. Here's a look at some of the latest styles: