The secret to running & swimming faster is the position of your belly button

What’s the secret to running and swimming faster? The position of your belly button, say scientists

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:36 AM on 14th July 2010

Sports commentators have long avoided trying to explain why blacks dominate on the running track and whites often finish first in the swimming pool.

But scientists in America claim they have come up with a very simple explanation to defy the guardians of political correctness.

They say it’s all down to belly-buttons.
Usain Bolt (right) wins the men’s 100m final at the Beijing Olympic Games

Dominant: Usain Bolt (right) wins the men’s 100m final at the Beijing Olympic Games - his speed could be down to the position of his belly button according to a new study

In a study suggesting that navel gazing may not be such a waste of time after all, top US university professors claim it’s not important whether an athlete has an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie’ but where his or her navel is in relation to the rest of the body.

They say the belly-button determines the centre of gravity.

According to the report published yesterday in the International Journal of Design and Nature and Ecodynamics, black people’s navels are higher than whites.

That gives them a speed advantage on the track, said the study, but holds them back in the pool.
Double Olympic champion: White swimmers like Rebecca Adlington have an advantage because of their lower navals, according to the study

Double Olympic champion: White swimmers like Rebecca Adlington have an advantage because of their lower navels, according to the study

Given two runners or swimmers of the same height, one black and one white, ‘what matters is not total height but the position of the belly- button, or centre of gravity,’ claims Duke University professor Andre Bejan, the lead author of the study.

‘It so happens that in the architecture of the human body of West African-origin runners, the centre of gravity is significantly higher than in runners of European origin,’ which puts them at an advantage in sprints on the track, he added.

Blacks generally have longer legs than white athletes, which means their belly-buttons are three centimeters higher than whites’, said Professor Bejan.

That means the black athletes have a ‘hidden height’ that is 3 per cent greater than whites’, which gives them a significant running speed advantage.

'Locomotion is essentially a continual process of falling forward, and mass that falls from a higher altitude, falls faster, the professor explained.

In the pool, meanwhile, whites have the advantage because they have longer torsos, making their belly-buttons lower in the general scheme of body architecture.

‘Swimming is the art of surfing the wave created by the swimmer,’ said Professor Bejan.

‘The swimmer who makes the bigger wave is the faster swimmer, and a longer torso makes a bigger wave.

'Europeans have a 3 per cent longer torso than West Africans, which gives them a 1.5 per cent speed advantage in the pool,’ he added.

Asians have the same long torsos as Europeans, giving them the same potential to be record-breakers in the pool.

But they often lose out to whites because whites are taller, he explained.

Many scientists have avoided studying why blacks make better sprinters and whites better swimmers because of what the study calls the ‘obvious’ race angle.

But Professor Bejan said the study he conducted with Edward Jones, a professor at Howard University in Washington, and Duke graduate Jordan Charles, focused on the athletes’ geographic origins and biology, not race, which the authors of the study call a ‘social construct.’

Professor Bejan is white, originally from Romania, and Professor Jones is black, from South Carolina.

They charted and analysed nearly 100 years of records in men’s and women’s sprinting and 100-meters freestyle swimming for the study.

Read more:

Well, no, it isnt the position of your belly button that causes you to run or swim faster - thats the reporter trying to make this article more sensationalist.

If black athletes have long legs than white athletes, they run run faster. This, consequently, causes their belly button to be higher. But it is the leg length which makes the difference, not belly button height.

Wow. I think reading that article made me dumber.

Yes, agreed. A couple of comments attached to the article include:

* Of course there will be differences; we have evolved to deal with different environmental conditions.This is like saying that greyhounds are faster than foxhounds but fox hounds are better at chasing foxes!

* There's a bloke in the pub whose belly button looks like it'll be fairly close to his knees soon. I can't see him making a great swimmer though :)

I heard this report on the radio too and It gave me a bitter beer face. What a crock of crapola. But, people have to do something to get those grants.

I foresee a new specialty in cosmetic surgery: moving people’s belly buttons.

What a load of BULLSHIT.

Wasting money on this $hit (probably tax-payers).

What the #$$%^&*@?

Oh come on… I think I’m open minded but I’m having a difficult time processing the results of this study. Maybe it’s just me.

Brings back good memories…

I suggest he looks at boats, the wider the boat and the bigger the motor the bigger the wave.

Id say a wide belly button would be more water dynamic, how about a smiley one.:slight_smile:

What if the belly button has fluff in it?

Or worse still, belly button fungus known as (Stinky Bellybutton), a disgusting cheese like goo which crusts up around the rim & smells absolutely disgusting.

Some dirty souls don’t shower & harvest the cheese to dip some nachos in there sometime, as its edible and highly nutritious. Also is good on pasta, salads, and scrambled eggs.

Me personally would usually stick a little wad of toilet paper in there to soak up the juice and keep the stink from spreading. My family and friends call me ‘stinkhole’ as the smell can go through my shirt.

I think finding the cure would make me a 10.2 runner.

“They say the belly-button determines the centre of gravity”

This comment shows this journo knows nothing about COM or physics, COM is defined as the point of which all weight of a body is balanced, therefore the sum of all torques produced by the weight of the body is equal to 0, any moron could work out that the belly button has little to do with calculating the bodys COM!

For those who are interested, in reading the whole article, it can be downloaded here:

In my opinion, if you look at the sports where whites dominate, you will notice that the sport cost lots of money just to play it, well it’s no secret that many Africans here in America don’t have money like that to be shelling out for swimming, hockey, and race car driving so they get locked out so they can’t even practice.

Maybe you are onto something.

Looking at it that way it could be said that the best whites arent competing either. In T&F it isn’t cheap to train over here. I was told a couple of days back that an athlete representing Aust at the Commonwealth games got $1,000 and is putting in out of his own pocket to be there.