Isabel Maya: Innovative Testing of Football Apparel

My name is Isabel Maya, and I am currently a junior here at Florida State University studying Family and Child Sciences. I am originally from Medellin, Colombia but live in South Florida. My future goal includes going to PA (Physician’s Assistant) school in hopes of one day becoming a sports medicine PA. Going into college I would have never thought I would be where I am at today. Working in Dr. McQuerry’s lab has been such an eye-opening experience to a world that I never knew existed and functioned the way it does. What is neat about my research is it allows me to combine two things that I find to be are extremely interesting and relevant at this school: football and research.

Isabel Maya

The NFL is known to be the most profitable sports league in the US. During the season, players spend most of their time conditioning and practicing. Football players often experience a great deal of injury and muscle soreness due to the great amount of time spent in practice, lifts, and games. The NFL reported 3455 injuries from 2012 to 2019; these numbers, however, only include large, scaled injuries such as concussions, MCL tears, and ACL tears (NFL Player Health and Safety, 2020). When considering lower-body soft tissue injuries such as hamstring tears, there are a total of approximately 1000 injuries occurring each year in the NFL (Battista, 2020). There is an extreme lack of literature on compression girdles and their physiological effects on the body for performance athletes.

Men’s Football Compression Girdle

Therefore, the purpose of my research is to determine the skin blood flow, skin temperature, core temperature, comfort perceptions, and sweat rate of the male human body when wearing a compression girdle. Using a state-of-the-art dynamic sweating thermal manikin (the only one available at a public institution in the world), we will be able to measure physiological measurements in ambient conditions above skin temperature (35°C) where football games and practice commonly occur. The active cooling channels and dynamic heat flux sensors of the ANDI thermal manikin allow for two-way heat transfer detection for such scenarios as outdoor sports.

ANDI Thermal Manikin

The compression girdle will first be compared to a control (boxer briefs) and another common base layer configuration: compression shorts+compression tights. Once tested alone, each base layer configuration will be tested in both practice (with regular athletic shorts) and play (with football uniform pants) settings. Testing will be conducted under static (manikin standing) and dynamic (manikin walking) conditions. In the month of May, I will begin to order garments and train using the ANDI software system. In June I will begin base layer and second layer testing, July I will perform all tests in both the static (standing) and dynamic (forced convection) setting. Then, in August I will begin to compile my results into a coherent document and begin working on my Fall presentations.

My ultimate goal with this data is to provide valuable feedback to football garment manufacturers and propose revisions for practice attire to aid the prevention of injury and reduce muscle soreness in football athletes. It will inform college and pro-level football players of the physiological benefits of using a girdle and/or compression pant; guide football manufacturers for design improvements on gear; and aid coaches to consider changes to garment practice protocols in a way that reduces muscle soreness and prevents injures in football athletes. Helping others and having the opportunity to determine whether or not compression gear in male football athletes makes a difference, would be a huge step for me career-wise.

References:

Battista, J. (2020, January 23). NFL reveals 2019 injury data, hopeful rule changes are working. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.nfl.com/news/nfl-reveals-2019-injury-data-hopeful-rule-changes-are-working-0ap3000001098679

NFL Player Health and Safety. (2020). Injury Data. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.playsmartplaysafe.com/newsroom/reports/injury-data/

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