Dr. A. K. Sharma,  Seema Patel, Jagadananda Behera, Girish Kherdekar

Centre  of Excellence –Sportech,

Wool Research Association (WRA)

P.O.sanodz Baugh Kolshet Road, Thane-west 400607,

Email: wra@wraindia.com

Why Invest in Sports wear

Listed below are  reasons one should consider investing in good workout clothing.

The Right Athletic Clothing Boots Confidence

The clothing one wears is going to make a difference if one believes it’s going to help one perform better.  Studies in the field of cognition have shown the positive impact of wearing the right clothes for one’s workplace.  Termed ‘enclothed cognition’, this phenomenon extends to sports and fitness too.  The boost could be an increase in confidence – if one know one look great – chances are one will act it out too.  If one like what one is wearing at the gym, there is a greater chance one will want to exercise.  It’s not advisable to test this theory when one is trying to push one’s maximum at the bench press machine.  However – there is a noticeable difference in one’s confidence when one is dressed in the right athletic gear than when one is not e.g; someone bought a new lightweight tennis racquet for one’s morning practice.  The coach noticed a significant improvement in one’s game when he was using that racquet.  The ground strokes were more accurate because he was playing with a racquet that was balanced correctly.  So when one has the right tools – well fitted workout clothes that offer support in the right areas – one is going to feel more confident.  The confidence translates into better performance.

The Correct sports Apparel Improves Performance

There are certain outfits that are currently banned in professional swimming because they shave time off a swimmer’s lap time by creating a more aerodynamic flow in the water.  Full body swimsuits made out of polyurethane were banned in 2010 following complaints from top athletes about the unfair advantage they created for wearers.  one may not swim competitively – but these outfits can boost one’s performance on weekly swim practices.

The default option for most men is a pair of basketball shorts that double up as swimming trunks.  The drag created by the pockets will slow one down.  A decent swimsuit will make a difference to one’s swimming form.  Similarly, someone may need something practical like a shirt that wicks away moisture from the body so his morning jogs are more comfortable and he can stay out longer.  A top that is made of non-breathable material is going to stop the release of heat from one’s body.  This results in excessive heating and discomfort that cuts short one’s exercise time.  A pair of running shoes would be inadvisable on the soccer field.  Footwear made for running or aerobics lacks the flexibility, lateral stability and traction required for other sports.

Any exercise that requires complex movements (that’s almost every sport) – requires the right gear to prevent injury.

The Right Workout Gear Adds Protection & Prevents Injuries

Using improper fitted equipment is a major cause of sports-related injuries that can interfere with one’s workout routine.  In extreme winter one prefers to wear long sleeved tops and pants on morning runs to cover one’s body.  When the icy cold wind hits one’s legs and arms – he wants to have clothing to protect his whole body.  Being protected means he can go out running in 10- 15 degree weather.

Guys living in India, in the Middle East or over in South Africa or Australia have a different issue.  It gets really hot and the sun is overbearing in the summer.  one may want a cap to cover his head and protect his face.  one need protection when he is out running but also have something that’s long sleeved.  That is why one does not have to apply sun screen that clogs up the pores on his skin.

One might want to use gloves in the gym to protect his hands from developing calluses on the palms.  Or if one is out climbing rocks.

Shoes that are not the right size cause blisters, cramps and slipping that slows one down.  High tops are required for protection of weak ankles.  Good sports shoes cushion the foot from heavy landings when one jump and lessen the impact of his steps.

Depending on the arches of one’s feet – one might require orthotic inserts to offer the right support during jumping and running movements.

Improper shoes can cause a number of injuries.  Even the right shoes fail to provide adequate protection during workouts if they are worn out.

Well-Fitted Athletic Clothing Improves Freedom of Movement.

In an attempt to get the best deal – men often buy the wrong clothing just because it’s cheap.

They probably don’t fit well.  They look like a great deal at first but in retrospect – paying full  price gets one better value over the long run.

Freedom of movement is important in active wear.

A tight shirt can restrict one’s movement.  Even if one is able to dunk, spike, swing or make other movement – one’s shots will be affected if one is aware of the tightness around his body. One must make sure that one’s shorts don’t ride up or slip down when he jumps.  If he buys a pair that’s too big in the crotch – the shorts will come in the way of complex movements in the gym.

If one is wearing a cap – make sure it’s not too tight around one’s head but also ensure it won’t fall off or slip.

Focussing on movement is important especially when performing compound exercises. One might end up doing it wrong if one’s clothing is restrictive or doesn’t offer the right support.

Compression Clothing Can Aid in Recovery After Exercise

A 2013 study conducted in Germany found that compression clothing actually helped recovery in performance.  A 2015 study in the United States stated that there was no effect of compression clothing on sports performance.  So there seems to be some conflicting evidence on whether compression clothing does help performance in sport.

Compression clothing provides graduated compression to stimulate circulation.  The result is a massaging effect which stimulates blood flow.

The increased blood flowing through muscles removes the lactic acid produced during exercise.  Recovery is boosted as a consequence and muscles are less sore and stiff.  Direct pressure applied to muscles can reduce soreness and inflammation – especially after a game.

Compression in athletic clothing has not been shown to have any negative effects so if one has not tested them yet – give compression clothing a shot.

The German study gave compression clothing the thumbs up while the American study didn’t produce conclusive benefits.  However, neither studies show any negative effects from wearing compression clothing.

In the western world, the sports industry has driven much research within the textile industry to help improve athletic performance, personal comfort, and protection from the elements. It has now been established that materials designed for the manufacture of sports clothing must meet many different requirements regarding barrier characteristics, comfort of use and service life. Sportswear should perform several, but very different and even mutually excluding functions. On  one hand, they must protect their users against heat loss, overheating or soaking, and on other hand they must meet high requirements in respect of product durability as well as many other properties contributing to the comfort of use. Sportswear must have protective properties against variable atmospheric conditions existing during their use as well as protection against physical damage. They must also exhibit a high resistance to external influences such as tear strength, resistance to abrasion, shape stability, colour fastness, making-up quality, constancy of protective functions, and overall durability. Hence, testing sportswear product requires looking beyond more common tests such as shrinkage, color fastness and seam strength. Some technical features are more difficult to test, measure and quantify. At times, several individual tests must be done on different portions of a fabric’s primary feature to categorize the capability. In 21st century, global athletic clothing industry has evolved as  a huge market and it is growing at a rapid pace. Companies like Under Armour have developed into billion-dollar businesses by catering to a specific need.

Based on such available data Ministry of Textiles felt it appropriate to focus on such specialized area of technical textile through creation of Center Of Excellence For Sportech in WRA, Thane.

WRA in its premises in Thane has created a specialized comfort testing laboratory under COE sportech which is one of its own kind in India.  This laboratory is equipped with equipment such as Moisture Management Tester (MMT) , Sweating Guarded Hot Plate, Drying Rate Tester, Sweating Thermal Mankin etc.

COE Sportech has also tied up with industry on one hand and  sport university,  associations  and federations  on the other hand to create an appropriate ecosystem for better deliverables.

It has been noticed that all leading brands do R & D  outside India which are designed for those countries climatic zone. These are not exactly suitable for Indian climatic zone. New study and R & D is required by giving Indian climatic condition prime importance. Also, designing of a few instrument suitable for our climatic zone is mandatory for doing R & D and developing sportswear product suitable for Indians. One comparative study for some sportswear products by using Asian Type  and Western Type Thermal Manikin revealed that for the same sample different values are obtained from different Mankins. So, for a particular climatic zone, R& D  needs to be carried out in order to innovate appropriate  sportswear  for that region’s  sport persons.

Table-1 Comparison of  thermal insulation values of different manikin


Designing sports fabric and garments is a very challenging task that needs to tackle many issues related to type & nature of sports, level of physical activity, its duration and climatic condition in which it is played. Based on a thorough analysis of the requirement of the sport, solutions are to be proposed where many options are possible. A multipronged approach is required from all the stake holders to progress in this sector in India. For this Wool Research Association is continuously putting its efforts by connecting with different national and international sports institutes, sports associations, sports federations  etc.  Recently WRA has signed MOU with National bodies like LNIPE, Gwalior, SGMEA, Jalandhar and also international bodies like RMIT, Australia. It is going to conduct half day seminar on importance of sportswear in performance improvement of athletes in LNIPE Guwahati,   SAI Bangalore,  and SAI Gandhi Nagar on 27, 28 and 29 June 2017 respectively.