A functional T-shirt is currently one of the most sought-after pieces of clothing, not only in the sports field, but also in everyday life. This type of clothing is characterized by its exceptional properties and functionality, which make it a truly universal piece of clothing. Functional T-shirts can keep the body dry and comfortable, ensure sufficient ventilation and protect the body from dangerous external influences.
Anyone who plays sports regularly will agree that functional clothing should be an integral part of every athlete’s wardrobe. Lack of suitable clothing could easily spoil your experience when running, for example. After a few kilometers, normal clothes stop ventilating the absorbed sweat and you may feel cold. This could mean you have to cut your workout short, run home, and possibly catch a nasty cold.
There is a big difference between the practical properties of a plain cotton t-shirt and a merino wool t-shirt. In today’s article, we will look at what functional clothing actually is and what advantages it has.
What is a functional t-shirt?
The functional clothing category generally includes clothing designed to meet the user’s performance requirements in demanding conditions. This usually involves specific measurements and cuts that are tailored to the user’s body type. A common feature is the inclusion of smart elements such as mesh designed to increase user comfort. For example, mesh is often placed in areas where more perspiration is expected, such as underarms, to improve the breathability of the garment.
How can functional clothing help an athlete?
To begin with, it should be mentioned that functional clothing is not only for athletes. However, we will focus specifically on how it can help us improve your sports performance, recovery after training and overall comfort during sports.
1. Absorption of sweat
Moisture absorption is one of the most important functions that clothing for an athlete can have. If you’ve ever done a workout in a t-shirt that can’t do it right, you’ve noticed that a soaked t-shirt can be uncomfortably heavy and, depending on the weather, even cold.
Thanks to better breathability, the clothes are more airy. In clothes that have poor breathability, you feel as if you are wearing a plastic bag. Breathability is sometimes referred to by the more specific term “water vapor permeability”. This feature helps to wick away moisture from the body and prevents it from overheating. Breathability is often improved by the use of mesh elements and ventilation cutouts.
3. Maintaining body temperature
In addition to the material used, another factor in the ability of functional T-shirts to maintain body temperature is its cut, more precisely the amount of air it maintains between the fabric and the body. When choosing clothes to help you stay cool, it’s important to think about staying dry. A good functional material should not only help you avoid overheating, but also deal with sweat properly.
Cooling is especially important during hot summer days. On such days you can sweat even if you do absolutely nothing, and some good training can only make the problem worse. It is therefore wise to do everything you can to try to lower your perceived body temperature at least a little.When choosing clothing to help you stay cool, it’s important to think about staying dry. A good functional material should not only help you avoid overheating, but also deal with sweat properly.
5. Better circulation to improve recovery and performance
Blood circulation can be improved by using compression clothing. Compression clothing tightly hugs the body and improves blood circulation, increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches active muscles. This can improve performance, increase the speed of recovery, help you avoid swelling, reduce the pain and stress that your activity puts on tendons, joints and ligaments. That is why, for example, runners often choose to wear compression knee socks, which can increase performance.
6. Protection against bad weather conditions
Protection against adverse weather is especially important for athletes who engage in outdoor sports. In the sheltered environment of the gym, you are very unlikely to be surprised by a sudden rain or snow storm, blizzard or strong wind.
7. Resistance to sunlight
Another value that may be relevant when choosing functional clothing is its resistance to sunlight, especially resistance to the ultraviolet part of its spectrum. It is measured using the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which determines the percentage of the sun’s rays that penetrate through clothing and reach your skin. If a functional t-shirt boasts, for example, UPF 50, it means that the fabric filters up to 98% of the sun’s rays. Any satisfactory sun protection should provide a UPF of at least 30 and above.
8. Better aerodynamics
Aerodynamic clothing is a must for performance racers for whom every second counts. However, it can also contribute to the enjoyment of sport outside of a competitive context. Fighting wind resistance is a common theme for all cyclists. A piece of clothing that creates a sail effect on the bike can really take away from the joy of riding. Many studies show that even a small reduction in wind resistance using aerodynamic clothing can significantly improve performance in speed-oriented sports such as running, skating or cycling.For best results, choose clothing that fits your body perfectly and allows air to glide around your body.
9. Reduction of the risk of abrasions and blisters
Abrasions from the seams together with blisters can make any training really uncomfortable. It is a common problem for athletes who perform speed sports where the friction between clothing and skin can be quite high. This is also important for strength-based feats, which can present similar problems. Even an ordinary weekend walk in nature can turn into an unpleasant experience due to abrasions and blisters.
10. Increasing self-confidence
If you have gained weight, you may find yourself disagreeing on this point. Who would feel comfortable in a tight t-shirt that barely allows you to breathe? In that case, this type of clothing might not be the most comfortable, and certainly not confidence-boosting. Every athlete naturally wants to achieve the best possible results.
Any tool that can help with this is always welcome. Using functional clothing is a great way to increase your performance and get more enjoyment out of the sport you love. Always think of your best comfort and choose cuts and materials that provide it. You can be sure that it will have a positive effect on your performance.