High-tech sports accessories like Polar sports watches for men and women are products of innovation and science to help people keep track of their athletic progress and overall health. But did you know that other sports apparel like shirts, socks, and shorts involve a lot of science as well?
Also known as athleticwear, these clothing and accessories help improve overall performance while ensuring comfort and safety.
Read on if you want to know more about the science behind sportswear.
Sportswear: A Brief History
There wasn’t any apparent need for sportswear until people started playing sports just for playing’s sake during the late 19th century. In fact, during the 1896 Olympics, even upper-class athletes only had basic clothing on – a pair of shorts and basic T-shirts. The only update came in the form of a sweater; which athletes only wore when the weather condition required it.
Since then, athleticwear has evolved so much to accommodate the ever-growing need for better clothing while partaking in physical activities with various skill and intensity levels. Like all other aspects of sports – like nutrition or psychology – sports clothing has changed so much with the help of new technologies and better material.
Unlike what people had in the early 20th century, sportswear today utilizes new technologies and materials, making them far more functional. Plus, they have the advantage of being:
- More aquadynamic or aerodynamic
- More breathable
- Designed with safety in mind, particularly for high-risk sports like climbing, equestrianism, and motorsports
The Role of Fabric
Fabric plays a crucial role in fitness apparel design. However, there is no hard and fast rule on what material is the best because it depends greatly on the type of clothing in question and personal preferences.
To make deciding easier, it pays to know the different qualities and features of some of the most popular sportswear materials:
Bamboo fiber is one of the best natural fabric options for activewear. It is made from bamboo stalk cellulose and comes in two forms: rayon and bamboo linen.
For sports and workout clothing, it is recommended that you choose knit or jersey bamboo fabrics. Aside from being environment-friendly, this type of fabric has the following features:
Still on natural fabrics, merino wool is excellent for clothing used when there are changes in weather and temperature. It is wickable, cool, and breathable in hot weather and warm when the climate is cold.
Unlike traditional wools, merino wool is soft and does not have that scratchy texture common in conventional wools. It can also be mixed with synthetic materials like spandex, and will hold its shape well.
Cotton is probably the most popular choice for clothing because people are naturally drawn to the comfort it provides.
However, it is not ideal for activewear because it attracts more water than other fabrics, absorbing moisture as much as 25 times its weight.
This means that cotton can be heavy with sweat when worn during a workout. It can also lead to blisters and chafing during warm months and can leave the wearer very cold during the rainy season.
Athletic clothing can also be made with synthetic fabrics like polyester, which is sometimes dubbed as “technical fabric.”
Modern workout clothing made from polyester is both breathable and waterproof. It can wick sweat away while preventing rain from reaching the skin during outdoor workout routines.
Other synthetic materials include jerseys, mesh fabrics, rib knits, and many more.
Aside from the material, athleticwear also has unique features that are specifically tailored for certain sports activities. This is also why your daily ensemble like fashion tracksuit bottoms, cotton T-shirts, and hoodies are not meant to be worn at the gym or when participating in sports activities.
See below a roundup of the science behind sportswear made for certain activities:
You’ve probably seen professional cyclists on the road wearing skin-tight clothes. Sometimes, this can be unflattering, which leads you to wonder: Are they really necessary?
If you’re doing a lot of cycling, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
These pieces, especially those bike shorts, are all about function. They provide unparalleled comfort and function for the athlete.
This is because they reduce wind resistance and allow a full range of motion for your legs, which is vital for this specific athletic activity. Just think about it: Cycling for several hours in loose clothing can leave you with rashes from repetitive movements.
Cycling tops also offer similar advantages, allowing a full range of movement to avoid accidents. Plus, they are lightweight and can wick sweat better than regular shirts.
Triathlon gear can be extra tricky since the sport involves more than one activity. Remember that triathlons combine running, cycling, and swimming – three athletic activities that have varying gear requirements.
Most triathletes use a triathlon suit as it serves as an all-in-one gear. It can be worn throughout the entire event – from the moment you arrive at the site to when you’re cooling down after the race.
Men’s triathlon wetsuits provide maximum comfort and are designed with flexibility in mind for swimming.
They also allow speedy transition between sections of the race, which counts towards the athlete’s overall timing since the suits are easy to remove after swimming.
Plus, they are made from materials that dry very quickly, which supports chafe-less cycling.
Contact Sports (Soccer or Rugby)
Did you know that jerseys for rugby and soccer are made very tight – much like a second skin – not to highlight the player’s muscles, but to support their performance and safety during the game?
Remember that both soccer and rugby are high-intensity contact sports that involve a lot of running, dodging, and bumping into one another. Optimum function and use of the leg and core muscles are crucial in preventing player collapse.
New generation jerseys were scientifically designed to help the wearer breathe deeper while promoting muscle stimulation on the player’s back. They also stimulate the abdominal muscles, shoulder blades, and lower back to ensure stability and balance.
Science for Safety and Performance
Although many people buy activewear based on their appearance, the science behind the design is what matters most. Choose your workout clothing wisely by taking the information in this article into account.