- Goggles' suction can accentuate eye puffiness and dark circles
- Most sports bras barely control breasts' figure-8 movement during a workout
- Purchase Coolmax or DriFIT undergarments to avoid wedgies
If certain gym side effects (sweaty-hair sideburns, sock cankles) are bringing you down, here's how to deal.
Post-swim under-eye creases
Cause: Suction, which helps keep out water, can also cause goggle frames to sink deep into the delicate tissue under the eyes, accentuating puffiness and dark circles, says Monica Scheel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Kona, Hawaii (home of the Ironman Triathlon World Championships).
Solution: While there's no such thing as a crease-free pair of goggles (especially if you have noticeably deep tear troughs), your best bet is to find a pair that doesn't sit directly under the eyes, says Scheel, who not only treats triathletes but is also an Ironwoman champion. Either go small, with the race series by View or the Speedo Jr. Hydrospex goggles (kids' frames tend to cover less of the eye area), or find a wider mask that hits lower on the face.
The swimwear company Aqua Sphere is owned by the diving outfitter Aqua Lung, and the scuba influence can be seen in the broader design of its Kayenne goggles and, especially, in the Vista Lady swim mask, which has a soft silicone facial "skirt" that doesn't dig into the skin. The company says Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard trains and races in the Kayenne and wears the Vista during open-water fun swims.
Cause: Short, layered pieces of hair escape your ponytail, slap against your face and stay there until the end of your workout. This is not only annoying, but can also lead to breakouts, Scheel says, especially if those wayward strands are coated in hairspray, gel or other styling products.
Solution: While nylon, cotton, jersey, polyester and Spandex headbands may stick to thick, textured hair, they can slide off a sweaty head of fine hair. A tighter band won't necessarily help, but something with a little traction will. Goody's new Slide-Proof head wraps have a zigzag of silicone gel on the underside to keep the band - and your hair - in place. Goody says that in company tests, their head wraps offer 42 percent more hold than wraps made from fabric, jersey or plastic.
Cause: Researchers at the University of Portsmouth in England have found that during high-impact activities like running, breasts move not just up and down, but also in a repetitive figure-8 pattern that is barely controlled by most standard sports bras. It sounds perverse, feels miserable and leads to chafing, discomfort, weakened breast tissue and even an unstable stride, found the researchers.
Solution: The sports bra company Shock Absorber commissioned a portion of the breast-health research from the University of Portsmouth. Its Run bra top encapsulates and lifts the breasts in soft, molded cups that control vertical and lateral sway, has seam-free inner elastics to reduce chafing, and stays put thanks to wide straps. When running on a treadmill, a typical sports bra might reduce bounce by about half; tests show that the Shock Absorber reduces it by 78 percent.
Cause: During a vigorous workout, ill-fitting bottoms that are too big or too small often migrate to...somewhere in the middle.
Solution: First, make sure that your bottoms provide ample coverage and have four-way stretch so that they move when you do. You've probably discovered that cotton, which can feel so loose and liberating when you put it on, tends to bunch and sag when it becomes wet with sweat - so instead, look for breathable wicking material like Coolmax or DriFIT.
Patagonia's Active Hipster briefs are form-fitting without being form-squeezing and have chafe-free leg openings that won't creep up. And the Asics ASX bikini brief has a smooth, supportive fit that prevents cheek creep with a knit weave that feels soft against the skin.
Cause: When bulky athletic socks hit above the narrowest part of the ankle, they shorten the leg—not a good look in shorts, and even worse in capris.
Solution: Your instinct is probably to buy superlow tab socks, but these often slip into sneakers, especially if you're wearing cushioned running, aerobics or trail shoes. This can lead to blisters and lots of cursing.
Wrightsock Low Quarters are the Goldilocks of athletic socks: They hit very low on the leg but have a supportive ankle band to keep them from slipping under your foot (they were designed for competitive runners who don't have time to adjust their socks during a race). These Wrightsocks are made from a wicking polyester blend and have a double-layer design to prevent excess rubbing, which makes them ultracomfortable for running and flattering for all types of exercise.