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adidas Product Innovation To Help Those Who Menstruate Stay In Play

adidas are unveiling their latest product innovation designed to keep more menstruators in sport: the new TechFit Period Proof tights, featuring an absorbent layer to help protect against leaks when worn with a tampon or pad.

In addition, with teachers and athletes alike calling for more information on the topic of menstruation, adidas have collaborated with Dr. Georgie Bruinvels and Orreco to create free resources and lesson plans for schools around the world.

The launch is part of the adidas roadmap of innovations coming out this year to better service all women in sport under the long-term ‘Watch Us Move’ campaign; a commitment to revolutionizing their product offering and services to better support the needs of adidas’s diverse female community.

The first step in this was understanding what physical, emotional and societal barriers exist to sports participation.

adidas Stay in Play
© adidas

adidas found that teenage girls are dropping out of sport at an alarming rate, with one of the key reasons being fear of period leakage1.

Using these insights, adidas set out to create a product that helps athletes stay in sport throughout their cycle by giving them an added layer of protection.

After over two years of development and rigorous testing carried out at each stage of the journey, the Techfit Period Proof tights have a set of absorbent layers and a membrane that help protect against leaks thanks to adidas’s new Flow Shield technology, giving athletes added confidence whilst training through their period.

WE STARTED DESIGNING THIS COLLECTION FROM THE INSIDE, OUT. WE KNEW IT HAD TO BE COMFORTABLE AND BREATHABLE, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT HAD TO SERVE ITS PURPOSE OF HELPING TO PROTECT AGAINST LEAKAGE. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WE FACED IN BRINGING THE TECHFIT PERIOD PROOF TIGHTS TO MARKET WAS THE TESTING. IT WAS INCREDIBLY RIGOROUS AND WENT THROUGH SEVERAL ROUNDS, BECAUSE WE HAD TO BE SURE OUR PRODUCT COULD DELIVER. 

Kim Buerger, Senior Product Manager – Women’s Apparel at adidas

A wicking layer, absorbing layer and leak proof layer work together to provide protection, whilst a bonding frame holds each layer together and keeps the tights in place

The 1 in 42 dropout rate not only emphasized the need for performance wear that better serves the needs of those who menstruate, but also highlighted a lack of education and understanding about periods amongst teens and adults alike.

Analyzing data from over 14,000 athletes found that even those at the top of their field didn’t learn about – or talk about – periods in sport at school or with their coaches.

In the UK, 82.3% of participants indicated that they had never received any education about their menstrual cycle in the context of sport or exercise, and of those who have a coach, 81.5% have never spoken to their coach about their cycle.

In the US, 65.3% have not received education on the topic, and 75.8% have not discussed the menstrual cycle with their coach1.

To break this taboo and normalise period conversation, adidas have partnered with leading sports research scientist, Dr. Georgie Bruinveis, and PE teachers who are on the front line, to craft educational materials and practical lesson plans.

Their aim is for these to be used in schools around the world, helping teachers, parents and teens better understand how to navigate their cycle.

Taking an open-source approach, we will continue to collaborate with teachers to gather feedback and understand how the materials can be evolved and adapted to help create real change.

IT IS GREAT TO SEE THAT THE LANDSCAPE FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN IN SPORT IS PROGRESSING, HOWEVER IT IS EVIDENT THAT DESPITE THIS, THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE IS STILL AN AREA THAT IS OF EMBARRASSMENT, AND AS A RESULT IS TYPICALLY NEGLECTED AND IGNORED. GIVEN THE IMPACT THAT THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE CAN HAVE ON PARTICIPATION AND OVERALL QUALITY OF LIFE, THIS MUST CHANGE. EDUCATION IS THE ULTIMATE STARTING POINT WHEREBY THOSE WHO MENSTRUATE CAN BE EMPOWERED BY AN INCREASED UNDERSTANDING OF AN ESSENTIAL PHYSIOLOGICAL PROCESS. EDUCATION WILL ENABLE PROGRESSIVE DISCUSSION, HELPING TO BREAK DOWN BARRIERS ASSOCIATED WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE.

Dr. Georgie Bruinveis, Director, Sports Science and Female Athlete Lead at Orreco

adidas Stay in Play
© adidas

To sustain the dialogue and put the topic of menstruation on the global sporting stage, we will be passing the mic to our network of athletes to share their own experiences of training and competing on their periods, including Team GB athlete and Olympic medallist, Jazmin Sawyers, and WNBA player, Layshia Clarendon, who is currently the Minnesota Lynx Guard.

The TechFit Period Proof collection is our first step in creating performance wear that supports those who menstruate, with more to come down the line. The collection is available worldwide from June 15 on adidas.com, in stores and via the adidas app.

1 1 in 4 girls around the world leave sports during adolescence. Research by scientists at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham (2019)

2 Source: 65% of menstruators reported ‘leaking’ as the number 1 concern when participating in sport. Research by adidas.

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