Friday, January 18, 2013

Genitalia Support and Protection for Runners

The running social networks and blogosphere have perked up with the titillating news that there is sub-specialty of research (applied ergonomics) that focuses on the suitability of the sports bra for the job it is intended. Many others have already professed their willingness to conduct observational research or regret that their high school guidance counselor didn't reveal this career option.

Female Genitalia Support and Protection
Since I don't (and have not) worn a jog bra I don't have much to offer in terms of how to pick one that offers the best support or even how to pick the right size. From my recent races in the heat and humidity of central Florida I can only offer anecdotal testimony that sports bras (and their users) come in all shapes, sizes, and designs.

This Runner's World article on "A women's guide to the best jog bras" may be useful. 

Male Genitalia Support and Protection
I feel (and am) more qualified to comment on this aspect. This is what works for me:

1. Wear lightweight shorts with a liner (and without any cotton briefs or boxers). The liner provides support and wicking of some moisture (sweat) depending on ambient temperature and humidity.

2. Retire the shorts when the liner no longer fits snugly around the legs or generally becomes to baggy.

3. When its hot and humid and or going on a long run I liberally apply "Glide" to my inner thighs and lateral scrotum. (Has anyone tried shaving hair from these areas? Does that reduce friction and chaffing?)

4. If wearing spandex or tight fighting shorts consider some sort of brief. I generally only wear a knee length spandex short in cold conditions and then wear either a wind brief or lycra boxer under the spandex. Otherwise I deem the look a bit too revealing for my own personal comfort. Note: I have had poor experience with tags and waistbands of lycra and spandex chaffing my lower back and typically won't run in these for more than an hour.

5. COLD Weather - Don't Nip the Tip - this is perhaps the most important protective action a male runner needs to take when temperatures are at and below freezing. A wind brief with a wind blocking front panel both helps retain heat and block wind from the nipping the tip of the penis. As you may recall from George Castanza's famous announcement, "I was in the pool", cold air and cold water cause "shrinkage." The reduced circulation to the extremities - fingers, toes, nose, cheeks, and genitalia - require wind and insulation protection. For me multiple lycra (non-wind proof layers) don't do the job, but when pressed into action a fleece neck warmer can provide enough bulky insulation as to counter the effects of a cold brisk wind. In this race report from the Fox Cities Marathon I discuss the agony of running with a nipped tip. 

What are your support and protection tips? 

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