Here’s Your Sports Bra Impact Level Crash Course

Shopping for a good sports bra can be really stressful, especially for women with larger breasts.

If finding the right look and fit isn’t challenging enough, how is anyone supposed to know what all these impact levels mean? And which one is right for your needs? Let us take a load off your back with this crash course on sports bra impact levels, so when you’re shopping for your next one, you’ll know exactly what you need.

Sports bra basics

When it comes to sports, there are three main impact levels, which refer to the effect the sport or activity may have on the body. In the case of running shoes, for example, when they refer to “impact”, they’re talking about the pressure on weight-bearing joints like your knees and hips.

The Racerback Sports Bra

Photo via @traveling.mat on Instagram

But in the case of sports bras, we’re talking about the effect the activity may have on your breasts. The higher the impact level, the greater degree of breast movement, and the greater the need for support.

You should always wear a supportive sports bra when exercising, no matter what your breast size is. Even if you wear a 34A, if you don’t wear a sports bra when working out, you run the risk of damaging and stretching the breast ligaments, which could result in long-term issues like back problems, shoulder pain, and (gasp) sagging breasts.

Read on to learn more about the three impact levels, what they mean, and which sports or activities you’ll need each of them for.

Low-impact sports bras

Low-impact sports bras are designed for sports and activities with a very low degree of bouncing. With light, comfortable support, low-impact bras are suitable for those with smaller breasts, or for more gentle activities.

Are low-impact sports bras for me?

Low-impact sports bras are ideal for women with cup sizes A through D. If your breasts are larger, it may be best to move up an impact level, though many women of all cup sizes like to wear low-impact bras as lounge or sleepwear.

What do I wear them for?

Many women like to wear low-impact sports bra for lounging around the house, when out for a walk, or to a gentle yoga or pilates class. If your breasts are on the smaller side, you may find them supportive enough for hiking or cycling.

Medium-impact sports bras

Medium-impact sports bras are designed with an extra level of support for women of all cup sizes. Typically, these bras come with a slight degree of compression and fit snug to the body for additional lift and support.

The Longevity Bra

Photo via @gabieliasoph on Instagram

Are medium-impact sports bras for me?

Medium-impact sports bras are great for women of all cup sizes. Depending on your breast size and the degree of support you require, medium-impact bras may be your preference for either low-impact or high-impact activities as well.

What do I wear them for?

These bras can be worn for activities such as yoga, golf, hiking, cycling, or using the elliptical. Women with larger breasts may find them more comfortable and supportive for walking or everyday wear as well.

High-impact sports bras

High-impact sports bras are designed for activities that involve a lot of jumping or movement that may result in the breasts bouncing. They are usually made with a high degree of compression and are built with a lot more support in the straps and bottom band.

Are high-impact sports bras for me?

Because of the additional support, high-impact sports bras are ideal for women with larger cup sizes. That said, women of all breast sizes can benefit from the support they provide.

What do I wear them for?

High-impact bras provide the most support for activities that involve a lot of bouncing and breast movement. These bras should be worn for sports like running, dancing, kickboxing, and horseback riding.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at our best sports bras to find the right one for you and your lifestyle.