Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can too much body hair be a bad thing?

Yes, no one likes excessive hair growing in your nose or ears...
... but as I have grown older (maybe not more wise or mature) I've seen the transformation of hair placement from nature.

It's migrating from my hairline to my ears, nose and back.  I can get the ears and nose, and my wife helps me with the back, thank goodness.  No guy wants to be the dude at the pool where kids point and ask "why is he wearing a sweater at the pool?".


But, what about the spots that are just natural?  Sure, women take care of the other body hair that's considered acceptable by society, but what about the dudes?  Is it acceptable for a guy to shave legs, arms and chest?  Arm pits?

It's widely known in the triathlete circles that men shaving down body parts is a widely accepted and used practice.  It has many perceived purposes that benefit performance and increases comfort.

I read over a LinkedIn post and listed the ideas that people posted of why they would shave or why others they know shave.
  • Easier post training/racing wreck clean up of road rash/cuts. Hair in a wound will slow healing.
  • If (or when) they wreck on their bike... the individual hair do not grab onto the asphalt or cement and hold on to it... causing a greater rip of 'chunks' of skin off one's legs (and arms) as one slides along the surface. 
  • Post training/racing messages better.
  • Some perceived benefits when swimming due to newly exposed nerve endings.
  • Aerodynamics.
  • Keeps you cooler.
  • Also helps with putting on and taking off a wetsuit.
  • It really does feel better. 

I can buy in to some of those.
It does suck when you pull on a wetsuit and it pulls on the leg hair.  That would be eliminated.

Shaving off body hair is not going to make the difference between winning Kona and not, for me.  Maybe a few minutes that could be justified to wind  resistance from no body hair could geta win for Crowie or Macca, but lets get real for the age groupers.

Massage, yes... but if your massage people are doing it right, there should be no issues with the oils and lotions they use.  If they are pulling your leg hair, then find a new massage person.

I've had a few rug burns and rashes from playing indoor soccer on turf, and having hair getting stuck in your scabs sucks.  I can see shaving down for road rash, but here's a thought; ride safe and don't crash.  ;)

It is an odd sensation after losing the arm and leg hair when out on the bike or swimming.  You don't get the wind through your hair feeling, but you do get a new heightened sensitivity that wasn't there before. It's a unique feeling, but I'm not sure how it would improve training or racing.

The cooler comment is interesting.  As it heats up here in Kansas City, if you're out after 10am working out, you will be tackling 100 degree and higher heat index.  Any advantage to keeping cool you can get, you had better find it.  I'm not sure if less body hair = cooler body temps.  Worth some scientific studies, I think.


Obstacles
Wife and friends.

Simply put, your wife (or life partner - equal opportunity here) has to put up with the grow-back.  If you don't keep after it every few days, that stubble you get on your face translate to your entire body after shaving.  Most women don't like to be stabbed in bed by leg hair.  You have to convince your toughest critic that you will either shave every few days to keep it under control or that losing the body hair will get you a Kona slot.

And then there's your friends.  Mancard. WTF.  Pick your response.  You have to be able to take the criticism from your "friends" about doing that to yourself.  Manly construction workers may not understand and if your crew is a "manly" bunch, you may not live it down.  Maybe if you wore jeans all of the time, you could slide it by.

In conclusion...
Do I really think shaving your legs, arms and chest will get you ahead of the competition, no.

Would I do it?  Yes and I have.  Why, I can't really say other than that's what the pro's or other triathletes I know do.  It looks fast?

It's a pain.  I use the wide trimmer and opt to not mess with the actual shaving cream and razor.  That's going to result in quick grow back, but I'm not really interested in shaving cuts and trying to get around my knee to make sure I got it all.  It's an odd notion that just one of those triathlon mystique things.

More tradition than science.  Do what works for you.
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