When was the last time you bought underwear with the specific purpose of working out? Probably close to never. Somewhere close to the end of teen age, most of us start investing in brands and styles that look attractive – thereby lending a sense of confidence – rather than comfortable, practical and longer lasting cuts. However, when it comes to workout wear, a lot of us don’t pay much attention as to what goes on the inside, and we know because we’ve seen what happens behind the doors of a locker room!

“All day long—but especially during sweat session—your legs, pants, and even underwear can trap perspiration around your nether region. And besides feeling (and, let's be honest, smelling) less-than-pleasant, it can contribute to irritation and even infections down there”, says Kenneth Mark, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University.

First things first, it’s the fabric of your inner wear that counts. Cotton underwear has to be a definite no, as it has a tendency not only to absorb lesser sweat and cling to the skin, but also comes with the highest chances of the dreaded wedgie! Also, it just suggests a perverse liking of that soppy sagging feeling. As a general rule, avoid wearing cotton fabrics while working out, as they tend to get wet quicker and add on to the temptation of cutting your workout short. Instead, try to look for innerwear that comes in wicking fabric – basically something that is quick to absorb and dry the sweat – and even though these tend to be slightly more expensive than your average pair of Jockey’s, they’re a better investment. For best results, find a seamless pair to avoid any rubbing or chafing.

A good option for men is to invest in a pair of shorts/sweats that come with an attached wicking, anti-bacterial pair of briefs attached to it. These usually provide an optimum comfort and cupping suitable for most workouts. Definitely avoid a pair that’s too tight! This could do more damage than you’d expect. Also, bamboo fibre briefs are a thing now and they’re all the rage, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

Chronic irritation and rubbing can cause abrasions that could go deep enough to cause darkening of the skin or permanent scarring. And sometimes if your underwear is old, the elastic becomes exposed and can potentially give you a rash, called irritant contact dermatitis.

Ladies, lose the lace and satin. As pretty and attractive as they may be, they are made up of non-performance synthetics that do not breathe. Try getting a hold of something made with other synthetic materials, like spandex and nylon. They allow the moisture to spread over a large area, allowing for quicker drying and breathing.

As always, it’s about personal comfort. Some of you may choose to stick to your thongs and jockstraps, and that’s okay! What’s important is to know that the right fit and style of underwear can take your mind off from having to worry about sweat, BO, etc. thereby returning the focus to what matters – the actual workout. It should assist you by means of ample support.

The next most important factor is that your workout underwear should make you look good – when the waistline pulls in the tummy, side rolls, back fat, etc. it helps adjust your posture and signals the body that it’s time for a workout. Those who are not confident about their body image tend to look for workout clothes that provide good coverage, having a pair of fitted undies on the inside would create the illusion of a fitter body that can help boost confidence and motivation. However, a good rule of thumb is to keep cool by wearing as little clothing as you feel comfortable in (and is appropriate to the setting) because people tend to exercise for longer and more vigorously when they are not overheated or drained of energy.

So take some time out from your weekend and hit the mall for a little shopping. Just remember that everyone looks good in black and that going commando for a workout is NEVER an option! Bacteria and yeast love a warm and moist environment.

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