Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Biomechanics of Women's Breast Movement During Running

Joanna Scurr, a biomechanics professor at the University of Portsmouth in England has been studying the biomechanics of breast movement during running, and the effectiveness of various bra technology in minimizing the movement.

(Professor Scurr measures breast movement with the use of eight motion detectors;
photo courtesy of the University of Portsmouth)


Some interesting facts from her study:

1) During walking exercise, the women's breasts moved relatively the same amount in all directions. But when participants sped up to a jog or run, their breasts moved proportionally more in some directions than others: More than 50 percent of the total movement was in the up-down direction, 22 percent side-to-side and 27 percent in-and-out.

2) The overall pattern of the movement resembled a figure-8.

3) An estimated 50 percent of women experience breast pain during exercise. Yikes!

4) Typical bras are made to reduce up and down movement. So-called "encapsulation" bras are a bit better than "compression" bras at reducing movement in other directions - in A-cup women, wearing a sports bra reduced overall breast movement by 53 percent, compared with a 55-percent reduction for G-cup women.

Holy cow! Could it possibly be true that there is that much movement? If so, that's gotta hurt. Particularly for ultra-distance athletes. Before I caught myself staring at all women on my next run to "confirm the facts", I thought I would look for some online video. A quick video of Pamela Anderson is "enlightening" (women, please excuse my dudeness - really, it's for science!):



Professor Scurr is now working with apparel manufacturers to put her study into new products, so perhaps more advanced help is on the way. In the meantime, Coach Wendy at Trifuel has an informative article on choosing a jog bra here.

25 comments:

  1. Scott, Yep, it can hurt- especially running when you are nursing! I used to wear 2 bras!

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  2. Now that's a creative way to promote your blog in the search engines! ;)

    Very interesting nonetheless - the results make sense if you think about the physics of it.

    What will runners see on the market first: the perfect sports bra or the pefect shoe?

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  3. Scott, dude,

    Thanks for promoting the advancement of science and better understanding of the fairer sex. I honestly hope you win some sort of award for this provocative post. I can't wait to see my 2 1/2 year old's reaction to the video...("whoa!...")

    Hey, do you think Ms. Baywatch herself might takeup trail ultrarunning? How about an interview with Pamela?

    You've already been doing a great job, but more posts like this!

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  4. I can't stop smiling at that picture. I don't know how a woman could agree to have her picture taken with those little white things placed in the most interesting places.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. and your point was...that it must hurt? wow, your compassion is heartfelt..and the video of ol' Pam was a nice touch..and that was before she had her new "silis" bolted on..can you imagine what she must look like now, running? From who? Tommy Lee or Kid Rock? Why not a tidbit on that? Scott, sounds like you need to get out a bit more...

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  7. Clever how you wrote up this whole "scientific" post just so you could post that Baywatch video. Hmm.. you have confirmed your "dudeness" ;)

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  8. What is this "movement" you speak of? I have never noticed such...but seriously, I know that my wife is on the never-ending hunt for the perfect jog bra.

    Michael

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  9. I can't believe it: all these years of running and I have never felt this "breast pain." Wait a minute--could it be that due to low body fat I barely make it into the let's just call it "A minus" cup size? Some "scientist" should do a similar study on men--perhaps in a different anatomical region. Also: I'm pretty sure that's about as far as Pam A. can run with all of the voluntarily added fake material up front and clearly moving in all three planes of motion. Good post.

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  10. Good point on the male equivalent study. I'm certainly in the "A cup" category there. ;-)

    SD

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  11. No bra will ever help Pamela, that's for sure. I'll keep the rest on my thoughts to myself:) To Mark - hey, we are no fairer sex, come and get some of us! It's been outdated so long ago, men just made it up actually and it never was true...
    p.s. had to re-comment, as it was MT who stirred it with the "faire-ness":)

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  12. I'm only here for the articles...okay I enjoyed the video too:)

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  13. what great technique that lifeguard had grabbing that lifesaving device, what a pro :-) what great form! not a bad ummm gait umm too...

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  14. I volunteered to help out with that study, but kept dropping the motion capture sensors.

    Great post.

    Will G.

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  15. I'm going to assume that the jiggle factor for us larger guys is not too different than the ladies. I think this may be the reason why guys are prone to the point of nipple bleeding when running in cold weather and need nipguards.

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  16. Ooohhh, yes. Everyone hates the nip chafe.

    SD

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  17. [reprimading voice] Scott! There are children reading your blog! :)

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  18. Thank you for your work in our industry. Personal training, health club, private organizations, and many other fitness related outreach arenas can benefit from sharing our collective knowledge and experience just as you do online. Thanks have a great day.

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  19. Scott, met your dad at a funny little race in Eugene Saturday. Told him you do great job keeping interested parties in the know on the ultra scene. Keep up the good work.

    Todd Bosworth
    Eugene, OR

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  20. Thank you for this post. Sports bras can also cause some awful chafing and retain sweat something fierce! The perfect sports bra has to take those factors into account, too.

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  21. Best blog post ever!
    I love science!
    Norbert

    PS: Used Nipguards too, but now I just use Johnson Sport strip band aid. Incredibly cheap and it works. And it's available at Safeway the morning you have a race...

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  22. Takes a confident runner chick to subject herself to that sort of study...

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