With the soon approaching FIFA 2014 and recently concluded winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia the athletic wear market is flooded with the latest and most innovative technologies that help perform better. Besides hard work and practice, a good skill enhancing and efficient sportswear is necessary in a field where winning or losing is a matter of micro seconds. In some cases they work as protective armour, in some performance boosters, and in some as performance monitors.

Using nanotechnology, microfibers, and insulators are some widely known technologies being used in the athletic wear. And these apparels are no more limited to sports persons and athletes. But athletic wear is growing to be popular with increasing interest for adventure and sports activities for fitness among people all around the world. The athletic wear market is estimated to be doing a business of $30 billion dollar a year. Some of the key players in this segment with global presence are Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok, Under Armour, Asics, Lululemon Athletica, Hanes Brands, VF Corporation, Quicksilver, and Bauer Performance. The growing awareness on health and fitness among consumers in emerging economies and rising incomes make athletic apparel a flourishing and attractive market.

There are a lot of new technologies creating a buzz in the segment. One of them is compression clothing. Initially this concept was used for medical compression stockings, which are worn over the leg in order to create a gradient and controlled compressive force. This improves blood flow in veins, decreases stasis in veins, and prevents thrombosis in post-operative patients. After conducting a series of experiments and research it was concluded that compression garments can enhance performance in different forms of sports. 

An athletic garment with compression improves blood circulation to peripheral limbs, increasing vertical jump height, reducing muscle oscillation when coming in contact for the ground, increases torque generated in the joints, and it also reduces the chances of injury to the wearer. The compression created reduces the risk of soreness during and after performance. Compression gears are being used for running, cycling, golfing, triathlon, and for recovery also by athletes and sports persons.

Wearing layers of all kinds of clothing to keep one warm is all a thing of the past with sportswear that helps retain the warmth from the wearer's body to keep them insulated. A leading brand of sports gear have developed jackets with shiny metallic silver dots that retain and also reflect the heat generated by keeping the user moisture-free and comfortable.

Hockey, being an aggressive and intense sport, the player is always high on energy and force and is hence prone to cuts on his feet. An apparel making company has designed a cut-resistant knee high socks as protective armour for the players. The socks are made up of optic fibres which are used in making bullet-proof vest to shield ankles and feet and keep moisture away.

Using advice of aerodynamic experts, coaches, aircraft engineers, experts in fluid dynamics and nano textile producers to develop a swimsuit is sure to fetch one the

winner's place. Such a suit provides stability and support for appropriate body positioning, abdominal compression, and a design to improve hydrodynamics. Moreover, using CAD created 3D avatars aerodynamic models are being created to enhance the level of performance of swimmers. Fabrics causing lower friction are placed in the right location on the wearer's body to decrease the amount of drag while swimming.

Another technology can help surfers combat a life-threatening risk of being attacked by a shark. The wet suit makes the wearer invisible to sharks and so far the experiments with such suit have proven to be successful. A company is also trying to come up with an eco-friendly alternative to the regular wet suits. Most of them available in the market are made up of neoprene, which is a petroleum based synthetic and hence harmful to the environment. The green substitute to this is a wetsuit made out of Guayule, which is a latex like fibre found from a variety of plant grown in Mexico. Sustainable production of the plants with herbicides makes the product completely nature friendly.

An innovative research of an institute is working towards developing clothes that have the benefits of an acupuncture treatment. The garments press target points in the wearer's body for pain relief and to enhance performance. Such garments can help athletes with blood circulation and appetite suppression. Smart textiles with embedded sensors can help monitor heart rate, pressure, posture, skin temperature, and breathing rate for sportswear. Moreover, using mobile applications the data can be used to evaluate performance by algorithms and can give required feedback. Modern day technologies in sportswear not only can help an athlete or a player perform well, but also get better insights on their practice and help improve on their weak points, and even aid in post performance recovery.


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