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How Do I Choose the Best Clothes for Parkour?

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  • Written By: Marco Sumayao
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
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Choosing clothes for parkour, also known as freerunning, revolves more around comfort and flexibility than safety alone, as the two prior factors significantly reduce injury risk. The most important piece of clothing for parkour is a good pair of shoes. Freerunners should test their shoes for three factors: fit, grip, and shock absorbency. Other clothes for parkour are usually determined by personal preference; freerunners should pick out clothes that offer comfort, while still maximizing their bodies' range of motion. Safety equipment, such as knee pads and gloves, is generally disregarded by experts, although these pieces might prove useful for beginners.

Clothes for parkour should always include a pair of shoes that fit just right; shoes that are too tight restrict movement, while shoes that are too loose put a freerunner at risk of injury. Freerunners can test their shoes for this quality by putting them on and rotating their ankles. The best shoes should feel snug while still allowing full, unimpeded rotation.

Another important consideration is the grip of the soles. Individuals will be running, jumping, and landing on a variety of surfaces while practicing parkour, and so the shoes contribute largely to footing stability. Buyers can test this by dragging their feet across a smooth floor; if the shoes provide adequate friction against the movement, their grip is good for parkour.

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Freeruners should also test how well their shoes distribute stress either by stomping their feet on the ground at full force or by jumping down from a height of about 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m). Parkour involves a significant amount of pressure on the foot, and shoes should have strong enough shock absorbency to prevent stress-related injuries. A good pair of parkour shoes should minimize the impact felt from these tests.

Experts identify two main schools of thought regarding clothes for parkour: some believe that loose, comfortable clothing is best for the sport, while others think skin-tight under-armor is more suitable. Parkour enthusiasts find that either option works, as the main principle behind dressing for the sport is to allow a full range of body motion. Freerunners should choose clothes for parkour that feel light and non-restrictive when worn; thick, hardy fabrics like denim are not recommended.

Beginners can also choose to wear safety equipment, although they should consider removing them after a few weeks of practice. Knee and elbow pads tend to restrict movement in the joints. Gloves, on the other hand, tend to limit a freerunner's ability to feel the environment through his hands. Freerunners should select safety equipment made of durable plastic on the impact points and flexible material like neoprene around the joints.

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