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J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Mar;29(3):700-7. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000783.

Synthetic garments enhance comfort, thermoregulatory response, and athletic performance compared with traditional cotton garments.

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1Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; 2Human Performance Laboratory, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut; and 3Division of Kinesiology and Sport Science, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota.


The ability of a fabric to transfer moisture is referred to as "wicking," and an increase in this property may have benefits in terms of comfort and thermoregulation. However, this phenomenon has not been studied in the context of sporting-type activities. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to assess whether comfort, thermal physiological parameters, and physical performance can be affected by the garment that is used. Ten men (age: 27.5 ± 4.4 years; height: 169.3 ± 14.2 cm; weight: 80.05 ± 10.87 kg) and 10 women (age: 26.8 ± 3.7 years; height: 166.6 ± 4.46 cm; weight: 64.63 ± 4.49 kg) volunteered to participate in the study. A within-group crossover counterbalanced design was used that included the Illinois Agility Run (IAR) and the Multistage Fitness Test (MSFT). The IAR was also performed while wearing protective padding. The protocol was completed on 2 occasions, once while wearing a cotton garment (C) and again while wearing a polyester (P) garment. Questionnaires referring to sensations of various components of comfort were completed after each test. The P garment provided significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater comfort in men and women after both the IAR and the MSFT. The P garment led to significantly (p ≤ 0.05) improved performance during the IAR in women. The P garment also provided significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater body mass loss during the protocol in women. This study demonstrated dramatic increases in the comfort of P garments, including while using protective equipment. This study also discovered the influence of P garments on anaerobic tasks and also revealed dramatic sex differences, where women seem to be much more sensitive to the benefits of P garments. Strength and conditioning coaches should be aware of the dramatic impact of garment choice, in aerobic and anaerobic tasks, particularly in women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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