Women Run the World: the Sports Bra Problem | A New Series for Women Runners by Coach Karen

Women’s participation in running has come a long way since 1967, when 20-year-old Kathrine Switzer made history by becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Nowadays, self-identified women account for 45.7 percent of all marathon runners in the US–the highest percentage of any country.

Women runners, however, face a set of specific challenges most of their counterparts largely don’t have to worry about. Welcome to this new series by Coach Karen, Women Run the World, in which she’ll share her tips on overcoming these challenges. On today’s menu: sports bras!

Written by Coach Karen Peterson
Edited by Pavlína Marek

The benefits of being a runner are nearly countless. To name a few, there’s better sleep and mental health, a sense of community, an amazing way to experience places you wouldn’t otherwise, stronger bones, and even a healthier libido! To boot, studies have shown that women who put in miles live longer, with about half the effort of male runners.

However, women runners also face a variety of challenges that our male counterparts do not. Let’s start with one of the most difficult items of clothing—the jog bra!

Your Sports Bra

From chafing to not providing enough support,… even to performance-affecting breathing limitations, finding the right jog bra can be a huge headache.

Fortunately, many improvements have been made and there’s a huge variety of choices out there, but it can take time to find what works well for your unique body.

Breast Pain

Sadly, forty percent of women athletes complain of breast pain; if you’re experiencing this uniquely unpleasant form of discomfort, ask around for bra recommendations and possible solutions—chat with others at your run club, in an online forum, or at a race!

Don’t hesitate to accept or ask for help at any running-focused store—many places have employees who will be happy to help you make the best and most informed choice.

Not only breast pain but back pain, shoulder stiffness, and neck issues can often signal that your bra isn’t the best choice for you. Try different cuts and sizes to find a bra that helps you battle these issues.

Chafe City

Breast pain isn’t the only issue; an ill-fitting sports bra can also cause chafing. That in and of itself is unpleasant. What’s more, in extreme cases, chafed skin can get infected to the point of needing antibiotics. (That’s our editor speaking from experience.) Choosing the right bra, even if the process lasts a long time, is crucial for preventing this issue.

If you have sensitive skin, there’s the possibility that no bra will ever be good enough. Combine the best bra you can find with other ways of chafe prevention, like:

  • Squirrel’s Nut Butter
  • good ole’ Vaseline
  • Second Skin/2SKIN
  • anti-chafe sticks like Body Glide
  • chafing stickers

*This content is not sponsored.

Live Long and Prosper… but not too long.

Finding the right bra can take a lot of time—and, yes, bite off a significant chunk of your budget. Once you find a bra that works, stick with it for as long as it works! However, you shouldn’t keep the same bra for too long; never let a bra celebrate a birthday,

Some women buy several pieces of their favorite sports bra once they find one that works and cycle them. Same as shoes, that way, your bras can last a little longer.


Another issue that women runners face is personal safety; unfortunately, far too many women experience scenarios that make them uneasy. There are a host of things that we all can do to alleviate this fear so that our fellow runners can concentrate on the sport and all that it gives us.

We live at an exciting time for women in running, and your crew at Run365 can’t wait to see what you do next!

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