German sportswear manufacturer, Adidas has unveiled its latest product innovation which is designed to keep menstruating women in sport.
The new TechFit Period Proof tights feature 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 has 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 brand's 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 revolutionising its product offering and services to better support the needs of its diverse female community. The first step in this was understanding what physical, emotional, and societal barriers exist to sports participation.
During its research, Adidas found that teenage girls are dropping out of sport at an alarming rate, with one of the key reasons being fear of period leakage. Using these insights, the brand 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 a new Flow Shield technology, giving athletes added confidence whilst training through their period. 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
"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," says Kim Buerger, Senior Product Manager - Women's Apparel at Adidas.
A Lack of education and understanding about periods
The 1 in 42 dropout rate not only emphasised 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 among 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 the period conversation, Adidas has 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.
Our 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," explains Dr. Georgie Bruinveis, Director, Sports Science and Female Athlete Lead at Orreco.
"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."
The TechFit Period Proof collection is available worldwide from June 15 on adidas.com, in stores and via the adidas app.
Check out the promo video below: