The Best High-Impact Sports Bras

Chances are when you dump your gym bag into the laundry, you don’t think too much about its contents. There are a couple of sweaty gym socks in there, a cute racerback top, leggings that have seen better days — but what about the sports bra? The history of the sports bra is an interesting one, where strapped-in boobs signaled a rise in equality, which is surprising when you think back to the bra burning days of the ’70s. But as it hits its 40th anniversary this year, it’s impossible to overlook how closely linked it was to women muscling their way into locker rooms and earning their spot on sports fields.

But the rise of ponytails on fields and courts didn’t happen because of a natural evolution; there wasn’t a women’s league boom in that era because girls decided they were no longer content taking Home Ec classes and waving team flags from the bleachers. There were specific social forces at play that lead to them joining teams en masse, and requiring the bra to show up in their underwear drawers. In honor of its birthday, ahead
is the fascinatingly feminist history of the sports bra, and the very real struggle it went through to get into our hampers.

When you finally find the best high-impact sports bra you’ve ever come across, oh boy, will you know it. The difference between your average everyday sports bra and one designed to support you through rigorous activity is extraordinary.

Before you shop for high-impact sports bras, it helps to know which features you should keep in mind and some of the common mistakes many of us make when choosing these bras.

First, one of the most common sports bra mistakes is sporting a smaller cup or larger band than we need. As a result, your breasts are not being fully supported as you run, jump, and kick butt in the gym, and you might even end your workout feeling a little achy on top. Make sure to check your measurements and compare them to each brands size chart to find the perfect fitting bra.

Another feature to consider, especially if your cups size is a C or larger, is an encapsulated sports bra. It works to protect each breast individually, as opposed to traditional compression bras which treat two breasts as one. Because the encapsulated styles protect each breast separately, it’s able to prevent the crossover movement which can damage your Cooper’s Ligaments.

Once you’ve found the right size and style to support you through your workout, there are tons of other features you can benefit from, like moisture-wicking, anti-chafing, and breathable fabrics. No matter what you are looking for, these are 12 of the best high-impact sports bras worth checking out.

Women have been cinched, pinched, and strapped into bras for hundreds of years, so it’s a little surprising they only had the sports bra for a mere 40.

But before they even joined a field or a pitch, they had to tackle the deep social stigma of letting their bra straps show, making it that much harder for women to go outside and sweat it out. “Before you stepped outside, you first had to figure out tops that would hide the straps — the bra you used to workout was a piece of intimate apparel that was never to be seen out in public,” LaJean Lawson, Ph.D., Sports Bra Science and Marketing Consultant to Champion Athleticwear, shares with Bustle. Once you found a way to tuck your straps, you then had to find a manner to join the team — which
was easier said than done.

Take the All-American Girls Baseball League in the ’40s for example. It was started during Wold War II to replace Major League Baseball, which was cancelled since most of the batters were off fighting the war. But even though the players had a peak of 900 thousand people attending their games, it still ended in ’54 as interest in girls playing ball declined to nearly nothing after the men came home. Then in 1970, the Pacific Southwest Open was going to award the male tennis winner $12,500 and the female winner $1,500, putting a very literal value on a woman’s worth on the court. That wasn’t surprising, seeing how before Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the landmark 1973 tennis match dubbed “Battle of the Sexes,” Riggs was quoted as bragging “the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and barefoot.”

There’s nothing worse than having to adjust your sports bra during a workout because it ’s digging into your skin. This high-impact sports bra eliminates that problem with a thin, wireless cup design, wide and adjustable front-cushion straps, and a variety of sizes so you can finally find a bra that fits you perfectly. It has a mesh panel in the front and is made from moisture-wicking materials.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle’s editorial and sales departments.

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