Athletes are always looking for ways to heal faster–ice-baths, saunas, massages, cupping, acupuncture, ‘anti-oxidative’ diets–now add a magic clothes to the mix.
At the IPL, Rajasthan Royals (RR) players are using bio-ceramics infused t-shirts and pyjamas that emit Far Infrared (FIR) energy. If that reads like a pretty far-fetched sentence, here’s an effort to break it down.
Bio-ceramics are produced when ceramic materials and mineral oxides are combined and heated to temperatures close to 1700 degrees celsius and allowed to cool. They naturally emit radiation in the Far Infrared range–a kind of light that’s long been in use for therapeutic purposes because of its ability to penetrate deep inside muscle tissue, providing a gentle warmth that improves circulation and oxygen levels.
Top European football clubs already use FIR saunas, but weave in bioceramic material into clothing and you get a therapeutic wearable.
“The body emits infrared radiation. So, what the FIR garment does is that it captures the infrared and converts it into FIR and pushes it back into the body as a reflective mechanism,” said RR physio John Gloster. “It has shown qualities like reducing oxidative stress in the tissues, which is the source of trauma at a cellular level and produces inflammation, soreness etc. It promotes cell growth which is critical to recovery and repair. Both of these contribute to reduced DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and also improves micro-circulation. A byproduct of all that is not only improved recovery but also improved sleep which is a huge affair for any athlete.”
Though RR is the first team in the IPL to use a technology like this, FIR sleepwear is not entirely new.
The NFL quarterback Tom Brady–still playing at the age of 43–is famously obsessive about his fitness, and has been using them since at least 2017. He now also has his own line of recovery clothing.
In 2016, Brazilian scientists did a double-blind placebo-controlled study during the country’s U-20 tournament and concluded that sleeping at least 10 hours for three successive nights wearing FIR garments did indeed lead to reduced muscle soreness. A year earlier, a wide-ranging study on elite athletes by the University of Jyväskylä in Finlabd also found significant improvement in recovery when using FIR wear.
It’s a ‘non-invasive way’ of improving performance, said Gloster. “There are no big changes by wearing this garment,” he added, “but at the top level, even 1 per cent extra matters. You add up many 1 per cents and it becomes a significant number.
“The main advantage is that you don’t have to do anything extra. Just put on the FIR treated garment like you would wear any other piece of cloth.”
Gloster said that playing in the sapping UAE heat is an extra challenge for players this year, and anything that helps counter that is welcome.