Posted November 8, 2013 by James Rhodes in Community

Extreme athletes require high-performance gear

In intense sports competitions such as the X Games, some of the world&rsquos gutsiest (some could say craziest) athletes push themselves – and their gear – to the limit. To aid these athletes stop injuries and execute their very best, competitors in sports such as motocross, rallycross, skateboarding, BMX biking and mountain biking depend on the ever-evolving safety gear produced possible by a broad mix of hard, cushioning and higher-performance plastics.

That&rsquos good news for amateur athletes, considering that the high-tech innovations created for extreme athletes often are adapted for mere mortals. In truth, a lot of higher-efficiency plastics initially employed in security gear for professional athletes these days can be identified in each day safety gear at neighborhood sporting goods stores.

Here are some examples of the gear employed to assist safeguard intense sports athletes.


Extreme sports often involve high speeds, gravity-defying stunts, daring jumps – and collisions with other competitors and the earth. That&rsquos why practically all these athletes wear helmets created with difficult, shock-absorbing plastics. Although helmets vary based on the sport, they have the very same basic components:

To support absorb shock, the outer shell is created with challenging plastics such as:

* carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic composites (utilised to make racing cars)

* glass-fiber-reinforced plastics (usually referred to as fiberglass)

* ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, the same plastic utilized in LEGO(R) bricks), or aramid fibers (DuPont&rsquos Kevlar(R) is one particular of the ideal recognized)

These high-overall performance plastics offer outstanding influence resistance – they&rsquore also lightweight to help prevent head and neck fatigue.

A compressible inner layer made with foam plastics such as polystyrene or polypropylene supplies additional cushioning. The characteristics of the foam can be engineered to suit the demands of person athletes and sports. For instance, the plastic foam in a motocross helmet may be made to withstand a single huge impact, whereas skateboarders may possibly wear helmets lined with plastic foam that can be compressed repeatedly in a number of smaller impacts.

Helmets often have further plastic components customized to suit the demands of each sport. For example, extreme athletes such as mountain bikers or rallycross drivers generally wear a full-face plastic helmet that helps protects the athlete&rsquos head, face and jaw from crash impacts.

Eye protection

Extreme athletes frequently travel at high speeds even though fighting dirt, debris and inclement climate situations, so protective eyewear is vital for several of these sports. Although the size and shape of eyewear can vary based on the sport, plastics play a essential role:

* Frames for goggles utilized in most extreme sports usually are made with a lightweight plastic, such as nylon or polyurethane, that gives the durability and slight flexibility needed to withstand the intensity of the sports. The frame typically is lined with a layer of soft foam plastic to boost comfort and fit.

* Stretchy plastic goggle straps are often lined with silicone, a heat-resistant plastic (also used in your kitchen spatulas) with a slightly gummy texture that aids the goggles stay put on the athlete&rsquos head.

* Goggle lenses are created with polycarbonate, a lightweight, practically unbreakable clear plastic (utilized to make bullet-resistant &ldquoglass&rdquo) that aids safeguard riders&rsquo eyes from debris although providing a clear view of the road. Thanks to its superb optical clarity, polycarbonate also is frequently used for lenses in helmets with attached visors.


Correct padding is not just for youngsters on bikes. The tricks and stunts that intense athletes execute are usually very hazardous, so correct padding is essential, even for a seasoned pro. For sports such as skateboarding, mountain biking, and motocross, competitors wear pads normally produced with a selection of sturdy but lightweight plastics:

* Elbow and knee pads usually are produced with a difficult, shatter-resistant plastic such as ABS to absorb the impact of a fall.

* The pads normally are held in place with soft, comfortable neoprene plastic (also utilised in wet suits) and secured with hook and loop fasteners produced of plastics (like Velcro(R), for instance). These lightweight plastics offer you flexibility even though offering a safe, reliable match.

* Pads are generally lined with foam ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA) plastic (the plastic that&rsquos also used for molded mouth guards) that molds to the shape of the elbow or knee to offer comfort and added shock absorption.

* In sports exactly where full physique falls may take place, such as in BMX, motocross and mountain biking, riders also may possibly wear added body protection, such as a chest plate and spine protector. These typically are created with a variety of difficult plastic shells and foam padding for cushioning, along with stretchy spandex (the identical plastic utilized in bicycle shorts and ladies&rsquos swim suits) for comfort and match.

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James Rhodes