How important is clothing in sport, well, simply put, it is very important. By being dressed appropriately for whatever sporting discipline an athlete competes in delivers advantages that otherwise would not exist.
As an example if an athlete were to compete in a road cycling time trial dressed in a baggy pair of shorts and a baggy t-shirt the time they would set would be markedly slower than if they were dressed in a form fitting Body Suit.
By not being dressed in the Body Suit several factors, like increased wind resistance, compression, or lack thereof on the muscles and even just the feel would contribute to the slower time.
Much the same as a swimmer would not perform as well if they were to swim in board shorts as opposed to an appropriate swimsuit.
As athletes we are all constantly looking for advantages that will help increase our performances, as shown in the examples above, clothing can affect an athlete’s performance markedly.
Then there is the differentiation within any specific sports code of the cheap vs more expensive clothing and what is the difference there in terms of performance improvement?
Sports clothing technology has come a long way in recent years with the introduction of high tech fabrics that can help athletes move faster, jump higher, compete for longer and generally have an edge on competitors.
These highly engineered fabrics are more expensive than traditional material because of the science and research that goes into producing them, the best fabric for the specific sport.
For us at Element Twenty Two, the internal Research and Testing laboratory of our manufacturer, where fabric tests are performed, has given a major boost to the production of laminated fabrics, laminates and technologically advanced yarns, they have also implemented the “Bonded” sewing technique.
Fabrics like moisture-wicking fabrics instead of cotton are used for athletic clothing because moisture wicking fabrics react to sweat and instead of absorbing sweat like cotton fabrics, it moves sweat to the surface allowing for it to evaporate, which keeps the athlete dry and chaff free.
Then there is the compression fabrics that have been developed where the fabric tightens around the muscles to help the muscles reach maximum output, especially during exercises for explosive, short duration sprint, vertical jump height, extending time to exhaustion (such as running at VO2 Max) and time-trial performance.
Many studies on what has been termed enclothed cognition has shown that the clothes you wear can affect your mental and physical performance; even the colours we choose can have an effect on our performances.
What makes for Great Cycling Clothing?
Cycling kit is specifically tailored to fit properly when you’re leaning forward on a bicycle. That means the jersey has a longer back to keep your lower back covered, the bib is shaped accordingly, with bends at the waist so pedalling is not impeded. The better the cut, the better the kit.
Cycling kit moves with you as you ride, which is the reason why cycling shorts are made from lycra fabric, because lycra has enough built-in stretch to prevent the fabric bunching up and causing chafing. The better the fabric, the better these properties are and therefore the better the kit.
Cycling kit is made from fabrics whereby water can move through the fabric and away from your skin to evaporate, referred to as ‘wicking’. It is imperative that these properties exist in cycling kit, drying quickly from sweat or even being caught in a rain shower from time to time helps keep the cyclist comfortable.
What makes for Great Running Clothing?
Much the same as for quality cycling kit, quality running kit is made from high tech fabric. You've probably heard the saying, cotton kills; you only have to have experienced one run where the cotton has been saturated in sweat to know the meaning of this.
A shirt designed for running will regulate your body temperature, draw moisture away from your skin and help prevent your nipples from bleeding during a marathon. It goes without saying then that the running top should be made of fabric that wicks away moisture to minimize the chance of chafing.
More advanced features include material that is sanitized to prevent bacteria from forming, this is standard in all our running shirts. There should also be some reflective strips to increase visibility in low light conditions when headlights fall on the shirt.
What makes for Great Triathlon Clothing?
There are several different pieces of triathlon kit available, but, we like the tri suit, the idea of triathlon is to get from start to finish in the least amount of time and using a tri suit allows you to wear the same outfit from start to finish.
A good triathlon suit is designed specifically for triathlon, and offers benefits that may help you race faster and be as comfortable as possible. It must be great in the water, providing a skin of sorts, it must be quick-drying so that by the time you are on the bike, you are dry enough to not chafe, which is very important. It also prevents the need for adding or subtracting clothing in transition, saving time.
The Element Twenty Two tri suits are super light and quick-drying improving performance. They have an ergonomic fit designed to improve hydrodynamics and the parts in close contact with the body are devoid of seams, united by a technique called bonding. They also have a small chamois pad to make the bike ride more comfortable.
Now that we have that covered, get out and take care of business people, get the show on the road. When it comes to world class sporting apparel we have you covered, no matter what your sport is.
The Element Twenty Two Team