Far Infrared Radiation, or FIR, is not an acronym or technology I have come across before. FIR is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, from the red wave band down to microwave. So what has that to do with cycling? Well it seems that FIR can have a beneficial effect on the body. To this end KYMIRA Sport have embedded FIR particles into the fabric of their PrO2 clothing. In this preview we’ll take a brief look at the technology involved.
KYMIRA Sport have produced a range of sports wear that uses FIR technology to improve performance and aid recovery, but how does it work? What are the beneficial aspects of FIR? According to Kymira Sport there are four benefits, I’ll quote directly from their website, as they say it so much better than me!
Far Infrared Radiation (FIR) increases vasodilation of blood vessels by increasing the production of nitric oxide. Vasodilation expands the blood vessels causing the flow of blood to increase which in turn allows for a variety of positive effects on body tissue, including increased glycogen levels, faster removal of lactic acid, and better thermoregulatory ability.
Increased tissue oxygen levels by 20%
FIR increases the oxygen levels as well as nutrient levels in the blood making them more readily available to cells when needed. Blood circulation is also increased which speeds up the delivery of blood to the muscles. It also hastens the breakdown of lactic acid and the rate at which waste products are removed. This delays the onset of fatigue and increases muscle performance during exercise.
Increased cellular metabolism and energy production
The increased circulation and oxygenation levels of the blood results in a faster replenishment of energy both during and after exercise as well as increasing cellular repair and replication. FIR causes nitric oxide to dissociate from the active site of cytochrome-C oxidase, a protein in your mitochondria which power the energy production process within cells. The metabolic processes within cells occur quicker because the active site is free, allowing for increased ATP production. ATP is the source of energy for all physiological processes and due to the increase in its production cells will grow, repair, and replicate faster.
FIR causes a release of nitric oxide that subsequently activates cyclic guanine monophosphate (cGMP) which mediates pain reduction. FIR therefore stimulates the biological pain relief mechanisms of the body without the need for drugs. Users of KYMIRA Sport products report reductions in DOMS and other exercise related pains. Relief of pain from chronic conditions such as old injuries is also seen and can improve performance.”
I did a quick search of the science behind FIR and after reading – but not always fully understanding – various articles in Nature and other medical sites, came to the conclusion that FIR works. It seems to work best when it’s from a powered sauce like a FIR sauna or FIR lamp, but there are still benefits from adding FIR materials to clothing and wound dressings.
Traditionally FIR was applied to the body either by using the hands (Reiki and other alternative healing methods), saunas or heat lamps. Or you could just sit out in the sun, plenty of FIR there! However technology marches on and it was discovered that various ceramics and minerals emit FIR. By adding these materials to fabrics, you can bring the benefits directly to the user.
KYMIRA Sport have added thirteen of theses FIR emitting minerals to their fabrics and turned them into sport clothing. I’ll be trying out shorts and a jersey from their PrO2 range. The PrO2 bib shorts use KYMIRA Sport’s KYnergy Infrared technology to “enhance performance and increase endurance while cycling”. That sounds like just the kind of marginal gain I could use.
The shorts are made from a breathable and quick drying fabric, 50% of which is Celliant Polyester. This is the part of the fabric that incorporates the FIR materials. The rest of the fabric is your standard polyester and spandex. The shorts have large perforated grip bands, with a thin silicone gripper. The chamois is from a Spanish company I haven’t heard of before called Masguant. It has three thicknesses of padding and the top cover is a Coolmax fabric. Straps are made from a perforated “jacquard” material, so should help keep you cool.
The PrO2 jersey is made from the same fabric mix as the shorts and has a “race fit”, which I guess means you’ll want to be in race trim! It is also SPF 35 rated, which is good news for those summer rides. Speaking of summer, the full length zip will be appreciated when the temperature and road starts to rise. There are three rear pockets, no zipped security pocket, but the outside ones are slanted to make access easier. The sleeves have laser-cut ends with silicone dots to keep them in place.
To get the maximum benefit from the FIR material, KYMIRA Sport recommend wearing the Pro2 kit for at least thirty minutes prior to exercise, during your workout, and for at least one hour after exercise. The first two are fine, but I might prefer to use their leggings post race. I’ll be trying out the PrO2 clothing over the coming months and will let you know how I get on.