Removing body hair can be a real burden. Not only it is irritating issue to deal with, but also it is also annoyingly time consuming and unpleasant task. To add insult to the injury a ton of problems arise as well – people have to deal with razor burns or cuts, or deal with ingrown hairs. One would ask himself, then why on earth most athletes from both genders opt to remove most or even all of their body hair? These people exercise a lot, are extra careful with what they eat, and on the top of all this, they deal with their body hair. There must be a really good reason to do so, or they won’t bother doing it.
The question is: WHY? Let’s try to find out the reasons for doing so in the different sports.
Now, let’s see the benefits for the athletes in few of the most common sports:
Have you ever seen a competitive swimmer sporting body hair? Me neither. In water sports hair removal directly results in better performance. Tons of studies have been made on the subject, but one of the most famous ones done the ACSM compared freshly shaven swimmers with swimmers with body hair.
The study found that freshly shaven athletes performed much better at 400 yards breast stroke competition due to decreased frictional drag, increased stroke length and decreased amount of VO2.
Some go even further by removing every single hair off their entire body apart from the hair. Many shave even the most intimate of areas mainly for aesthetic reasons and often times bring razors or hair trimmers with them when travelling to competitions.
Cyclists remove their arm and leg hairs regularly. However, I was not able to find even a single study showing increase in cycling performance by doing so. There is very little to none aerodynamic advantage. They why these people opt to go hairless? Maybe it is aesthetics as well?
Nope, not really. It for practical reasons. Cyclists often get massages and leg heir gets in the way. It is extremely uncomfortable to have daily massages while sporting leg hair – it keeps pulling and you are not able to fully enjoy the massage.
Plus cyclists wear spandex jerseys and trousers. Tight fitting clothing and hairs don’t work well together and putting on and off the clothing quickly gets really uncomfortable.
However, cyclists don’t remove their pubic hair entirely. On the last Olympics Team GB female athletes were told that shaving or waxing the pubic hair results in saddle soreness. They were advised to use pubic hair trimmers instead as it was found that trimming pubic hair does not hinder their performance. So much so that the coaches asked themselves whether they should buy the girls beard trimmers.
I was extremely interested in the studies involving runners. In a sport where mere fraction of seconds matter, every little thing can give you huge advantage over the competition. A study published in the JMSSE found that runners who remove their body hair could save up to the amazing 5.7 seconds while running a marathon. Of couse shorter distance runners don’t have that much of advantage, but even they were able to shave off 0.01 seconds in the shortest 100m sprint.
But isn’t there a single reasoning to remove body hair? No, different sports have different requiments and body hair removal gives different benefits depending on the sport. The most common of all reasons are these three:
- For performance benefits
- To treat injuries more easily
Did you know that our feet pound the ground 1600 times per mile (800 times for each foot). You literally punish them with each and every run.
This is especially true when you are running with some feet problem. Even when everything is working smoothly, our feet suffer enormous strain. Each foot has 28 bones, 30 ligaments and a hundred ligaments. All those parts have to work to get you through your run, jog or hike. However, when you put your feet to the ultimate test, something can fail.
Moreover, even the smallest flaws in your stride will result in foot pain.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you treat your feet well, get them good socks and SHOES. Aim for proper fit, and go for shoes that are made specifically for your foot type and structure.
This is crucial. A number of feet conditions result from simply wearing improper shoes. These include (but are not limited to): corns and blisters, pain in the bottom and back of the feet, arch pain, hammer toes, bunions, pain under the toes, pain in the toenail area, pain on top of the foot.
While some conditions cannot be reverted (bunions), others are quite easy to alleviate and revert (corns, blisters).
Let me give you a couple of examples:
Example #1: Problem: BUNIONS.
Solution: While bunions cannot be undone, you case ease the suffering and reduce the rubbing to a minimum. First and foremost, avoid wearing tight shoes. Pick shoes with generous toe box. Many sites like this one have picked the top running sneakers for bunions. Use this to your advantage and save yourself many hours of searching for the correct shoes.
Secondly, reduce the pressure on the bunion. Some drug stores sell bunions pads that do exactly this. Of course, you can DIY, but I find that those pads are quite inexpensive and it is simply not worth my time.
If you still experience a lot of discomfort, visit your podiatrist to recommend you a custom solution.
Example #2: Problem: Pain in the bottom of the heel.
Solution: This is a problem common among the teens and pre-teens (11 y.o. suffer from that too). The likely cause is that the heel bone in that age has not fused yet. So, if you are younger than twenty and run longer, you might have separated those bones.
Heel strapping is a good measure to try. Use one and a half inches adhesive tape. Also wear heel pads – for example, small makeup sponges work well in running shoes.
Have some patience as the healing can take up to 6 months. Don’t overdo jumping and running during that time. Use the period for other activities that don’t put strain on your heel.
For other feet conditions, check out this article on foot pain
There are numerous reasons why you should encourage your children to engage in team sports since early age. It is a way to make new friends, strengthen bonds between the team members and the coach and stay active. Through the fun games, the children learn crucial social skills as well as the importance and value of being able to work in a team.
The first studies about the link between body activity and overall health started in the 1950’s, but it was 30-40 years later, when the overwhelming scientific evidence for the positive effect of activity and sport and the health was found. Various studies have shown the correlation between regular physical activity and the prevention of certain illnesses and health conditions, such as: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, depression, obesity and cancer.