Generally, picking a bra based on impact level is key

Generally, picking a bra based on impact level is key

Sports bras: Support levels

The same sports bra type isn’t ideal for every workout, either, Ottesen explained. Why? Lower impact activities don’t require as much compression while higher impact activities need bras with more constrictive support. When it comes to shopping for the best sports bra, then, you’ll find they’re generally separated by support level, explained Kim Brennecke, vice president of active design at Old Navy. Although there’s no “industry standard” for each level, many retailers break activities into these groups and recommend specific workouts for each bra. “Sports bra styles run the gamut, from cross-backed and front-closed to racerback and wide-strapped, but generally, picking a bra based on impact level is key,” O’Connor said.

Low impact bras are made from lighter materials ideal for walking, yoga, stretching and lounging. “Usually, the lower support bras will be less built-out with narrow or decorative straps,” said Brennecke. “These bras are best for activities that don’t have a lot of sudden movements, such as barre, pilates and yoga.”

Medium impact bras are great for slightly more intense workouts or activities including cycling, skiing, cross-training and weight training.

High impact bras are ideal for high-intensity movements like running, jumping and horseback riding. Just remember, “the more bounce, the more support needed,” O’Connor said. Bras that fall within this category will also have more moving parts built into them. “They have more coverage, either through wider straps or a higher neckline with the intent to offer the most resistance to sudden movement, which is great for HIIT [an acronym for high-intensity interval training] or jogging,” said Brennecke.

Since different exercises put unique demands on the body, they require different equipment. “Would we wear high heels to play basketball? Go for a run in clogs?” said Lisa Lindahl, co-inventor of the first sports bra and author of “Unleash The Girls.” “When we have the proper equipment, it makes the experience not only more pleasant, it makes us better at it — and the proper equipment can also make the activity safer.”