When athletes start training, they are busier than ever. From training sessions to competitions, sports take up a lot of time. For sports like swimming, dancing, cycling, gymnastics and bodybuilding, being hair-free is a quasi-necessity. Of course, laser hair removal is then a very efficient hair removal method for these athletes. But what are the reasons that athletes often have no body hair?
The most common reason for athletes to remove hair is comfort.
Sportswear is often tight, which can cause hair to move and chafe during a workout or game. This can cause an annoying or painful feeling and lead to irritation or blisters.
A treatment by a physical therapist or a sports massage is more pleasant (and hygienic) when you do not have body hair on the area where you are being massaged, such as your legs because the surface is much smoother and the oil does not get stuck in the hair. Not only is the treatment more pleasant for yourself, but also for the therapist.
Also taping goes a lot easier if you don't have body hair on the area to be taped. Last but not least, you can remove the tape (and plasters) painlessly when you have no body hair.
Cream is more easily and quickly absorbed if you have no body hair. You then apply the cream directly to your skin and it does not stick to your hair.
Recovery from injury
Another reason is injury recovery. Wounds on body parts without hair recover faster because there is no hair to impede the process, and care and disinfection are easier and there is less risk of infection. Another great advantage is that when band-aids or tape must be applied, no pain is experienced when removing them.
Sport performance reasons
In some sports, aerodynamics is extremely important, think cycling, swimming and some athletic disciplines.
Research has shown that body hair can be a limiting factor in some sports disciplines. A brief overview:
- Swimming: It is concluded that removal of body hair reduces active resistance, thereby reducing the physiological cost of swimming. (R L Sharp, D L Costill, Influence of body hair removal on physiological responses during breaststroke swimming, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Oct;21(5):576-80)
- Swimming: The accumulation of lactate in the blood was significantly reduced by an average of 23%-28%. (Sharp RL, Hackney AC, Cain SM, Ness RJ. The Effect of Shaving Body Hair on the Physiological Cost of Freestyle Swimming. J Swim Res. 1988 Winter;4(1):9-13.)
- Cycling: A wind tunnel test conducted by Specialized Bicycles found an average difference between shaved and unshaved legs of 70 sec per 40 km, or just over 5 minutes for 180 km. The video can be found below.
Especially in sports where muscle definition is judged - think bodybuilding & figure competitors - hair removal of the (entire) body is well-established as your muscle definition is more visible without body hair.
Many well-known sports professionals and top athletes have commercial engagements for sponsors and in (sports) magazines and commercials. A smooth and hairless body often shows itself better in these magazines and/or commercials.
Hair removal by sport
Every sport involves different movements, and the associated outfits also vary. Therefore, which body parts are usually depilated differs for each sporting discipline. Below is a brief overview.
Cyclists generally depilate their upper and lower legs and their forearms.
Soccer players generally depilate their legs and sometimes armpits.
Track and Field
Athletes primarily depilate their legs, bikini line, shoulders and possibly their abdomen.
Field hockey players generally make sure to depilate legs and armpits.
Swimmers often depilate their entire body, sometimes apart from the armpits.
Bodybuilders depilate their entire body, sometimes apart from the armpits.
Beach volleyball players usually depilate their legs, bikini line and armpits.
Gymnasts usually depilate their legs, bikini line and armpits and sometimes the back and arms.
Water polo athletes often depilate their entire body, sometimes apart from the armpits.