Out There: Mad Science

Breast Velocity. Seriously.

Yes, there are studies that look at how to stop bouncing boobs. Science is awesome.

File this under ”mad science”, ladies: researchers are studying the velocity of your breasts while running.

I don’t even know where to begin. Yes, I do. Researchers are staring at your boobs while you run.

The scholarly journal Applied Ergonomics discusses the findings of a recent study on running bras. During this study researchers tracked the movement of breasts; both stationary pairs and those in motion on a treadmill. Through scientific inquiry, they discovered why so many sports bras just don’t pass muster: even within the same cup size, women’s breasts come in a wide range of weights and velocities, something sports bra manufacturers don’t always account for in their designs.

How they conducted this study with a straight face, I don’t know. I can’t even recap the research for this column without giggling, much less imagine staring at bouncing boobs with the stoic professionalism of scientific research. The word “breast” renders me sophomoric, laden with euphemisms (hooters, ta-tas, sweater melons, knockers). If I am in the vicinity of giant bras, I will put one on my head and sing “Sunrise, Sunset” with dramatic flourish. It’s not a discussion; that’s just what will take place.

So naturally, I’m thankful for researchers who are able to get this important work done. Not only do they inadvertently provide fodder for this column, but they’re also trying to provide solutions to an age-old problem. Female runners have been complaining about sports bras since the very first fig-leaf prototype in the Garden of Eden. In fact, my first “Out There” column in print for Competitor was a lament about sports bras. What can I say? Boobs, they’re funny.

I came across this study while doing research for an article a few months ago. Before then, it had never really occurred to me that running had been studied in such great detail. I guess I had known it, but I never really gave it that much thought. I merely assumed the advice and knowledge about the sport had been passed down from runner to runner, during sunrise jogs along the beach and while standing in long pre-race lines for the porto-johns.

But once I stumbled across this study, I clicked through link after link. As I traveled down the rabbit hole, I learned this study is just one of many analyzing the odd tribulations of runners. Research titles range from the surprising (“Non-alcoholic beer reduces inflammation and incidence of upper respiratory tract Infections after a marathon”, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2011); to the trendy (“Running in a minimalist and lightweight shoe is not the same as running barefoot: A biomechanical study”, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2012); to the obvious (“Running is rewarding and antidepressive”, Journal of Physiology & Behavior, 2007); to the gross (“Runner’s Trots: Gastrointestinal disturbances in runners”, Journal of The American Medical Association, 1980).

There are studies that tell us that dark chocolate can help us exercise (Journal of Physiology, 2011), and that watching erotic movies boosts athletic potential (Hormones & Behavior, 2012).  And yes, there are studies that look at how to stop bouncing boobs. Science is awesome.

I’ve never met these researchers, but I imagine they must be fascinating, in that run-geek kind of way. I want to be invited to their next cocktail party.

I just need to make sure I wear a good bra.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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