There are a lot of things people don't tell you will happen when you first start working out. Some of those things include the unholy amount of butt soreness that comes along with leg day, the aggressive amount of laundry you'll have piling up alongside your bed, and the fact that every time you go for a run, your f*cking earbuds won't stop slipping out of your ears. You'll catch yourself moaning and groaning in agony, "Why do my earbuds always fall out?!" OK, maybe I'm being a tad dramatic, but you can't deny it's annoying AF when this happens. Seriously, what's a girl got to do to listen to some quality jams during her sweat sesh without interruption?
TBH, I think I have about 27 pairs of headphones tucked away in various locations throughout my house right now, and it's not because I'm an earbud enthusiast (is that even a thing?). It's because, between the flimsy freebies that come with an iPhone purchase, to the more sturdy but pricy Beats by Dre, I just can't seem to find the perfect pair of headphones — you know, ones that stay lodged in your ears through even the most challenging of bouncy HIIT circuits. It's finally dawned on me, though, that there's a reason why we've all experienced this annoying earbud struggle.
Think about it this way: Most earbuds are basically made to be a one-size-fits-all product for the "standard" ear canal size, and though this works for some, everyone's ears differ slightly.
Though there's a standard estimate for ear canal size that applies to most people (approximately 2.5 centimeters in length, and 0.7 centimeters in diameter, according to SELF), everyone's ears are various shapes and sizes — hence the frustrating slippage that many of us go through on the reg.
Basically, Erich Voigt, M.D., a clinical associate professor in the department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at NYU Langone Health, told SELF that if your ear canal is a bit bigger than the universal headphone size, there won't be anything for your beloved earbuds to sit against. So you can say goodbye to your "Pop Hits of 2010" playlist that you were counting on to pump you up on the elliptical. On the other hand, if your ear canal is smaller than the standard, your earbud won't be able to go deeply enough into your ear canal, and will likely pop right out when you're literally just trying to stay in the zone during your burpees.
Oh, and then there's the issue of earwax buildup. Don't be grossed out, OK? Yes, it's low-key a little nasty, but it happens to everyone, and it might actually play an important role in keeping your earbuds tucked in your ears during a workout. Earwax buildup could be interfering with the sound coming out of your buds, or it might even be what's causing them to constantly drop right out of your ears, because it's simply taking up too much room in your ear.
But fear not, my friend. There are ways to find earbuds that will fit like a glove (or... an earmuff, perhaps?).
For starters, before you assume that your ear canal simply wasn't made to fit any type of headphones, make sure that you're putting in your earbuds the right way. TBH, I didn't know until now that there was a "right" and "wrong" way to wear earbuds, but you live and you learn, amirite?
Basically, the "right" way to wear earbuds requires taking hold of your earlobe and kind of stretching it out a bit to make more room in your ear canal, before you gently nudge the bud in a bit deeper. (The key word is "gentle" here, people. Your inner ear is delicate!) This will make sure that the buds are snug and secure, no matter how hard you're going at the gym.
Also, if you've ever noticed that a pair of rubber earbuds come with a variety of tips, those are there for a reason! They're not just extras in case you lose the initial pair of rubber covers; they're actually for small, medium, and larger-sized ear canals, so test them all out and see what feels comfortable for you.
Bottom line: It's all about experimentation and finding the bud that stays put through thick and thin (and copious amounts of exercise-induced perspiration). And if all else fails, clean out that wax, girl. You know you don't do it often enough, anyway.