Three to four decades ago, it was rare to see a soccer player with beards or long hair. Their beards were mostly clean while their heads were either bald or cropped short. That trend is changing.
Today, you will find elite players like ex-Barcelona star, Sergio Ramos brandishing long beards and France sensational Antoine Griezmann with full long hair. However, one trend that has remained over the years is players shaving their legs.
The big question now is, why do soccer players shave their legs? Does it confer any special advantages to them or is it just a trend? Read on to find out!
- Why do soccer players shave their legs?
- How do soccer players remove leg hair?
- Final thoughts
Why do soccer players shave their legs?
Generally, athletes that are into aerobic sports shave their legs—and this is for a good reason. In sports, every second counts, and athletes will do anything to literally shave seconds off their performance.
This explains why you will not see cyclists racing Tour de France with hairy legs. Swimmers shave their legs too to lower resistance. Runners record shorter times with shaved limbs. In rugby, it makes it harder for the opponent to grapple them during a tackle.
Likewise, soccer players experience better performance when they shave their hair—but there is even more. Below are some of the reasons why soccer players always keep bald limbs.
1. Makes taping easier and painless
Players make quick motions on the pitch and change their directions rapidly when trying to dribble their opponents.
While a good dribble is always exciting to watch, the player has to deal with potential ligament and muscle tear as well as stress to the bone structure.
Soccer cleats provide the grip that makes dribbling maneuvers easier. However, they have little support for the ankle.
Therefore, soccer players use tape on their ankles to improve stability and avoid twisting their ankles. Since athletes use the ‘Athletic Tape’ directly on their skin, getting the tape off can hurt if you have hair on your legs. That is not the case if the player has no hair on his legs.
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2. Improves tissue massage
One of the ways soccer players improve recovery after each game or training session is through a deep tissue massage. The deep tissue massage technique helps to treat sports injuries and strains to the musculoskeletal system.
During this process, the masseur or masseuse applies sustained pressure by employing deep, slow strokes to target the connective tissues and inner muscle layers.
The process lowers inflammation and increases blood flow which promotes faster healing.
Shaving makes the entire process easier for the masseur or masseuse and the player. How? The masseur or masseuse may unintentionally thug on the hair as they draw their strokes and this can be painful and uncomfortable for the player.
On the flip side, some people have razor-sharp hairs which can leave tiny cuts on your masseur or masseuse. Bet neither the player nor the masseuse wants any of that.
3. Eliminates unnecessary heat buildup
Most mammals (a class of living things that human beings belong to) have hairs that serve as insulators.
During the cold weather, the hair stands to trap air and heat which keeps you warm. In other words, it helps to regulate the body temperature.
Soccer players are already producing enough heat and want to let some of them out as sweat. Dense hair can block off the sweat pores or trap the sweat causing severe discomfort, itching, or burning sensation.
However, when players shave their legs, sweat flows unhindered which also eliminates the potential discomfort.
4. Easier to wear socks and shin guards
When socks or shin guards rub against the hair, it can lead to discomfort. For example, hair strands may entangle with the cotton strands of the socks.
Consequently, as the socks move up and down due to motion they pull the hair causing sharp pain.
Soccer players agree that smooth legs make it more comfortable to wear socks and shin guards for the 90 minutes game duration. Well, this idea has not been scientifically tested.
5. Prevent turf burn
Players have unique ways of celebrating goals. Some will run to the corner flag and slide on the grass with their shin. Also, players with a defensive mentality often engage in sliding tackles.
Sliding with hairy legs increases the friction between your legs and the natural or synthetic turf which can lead to grass or turf burn.
Physics makes us understand that friction causes wear and tear while frictionless surfaces glide freely.
Thus, shaving the legs can make the difference between catching the ball or committing a foul when a player slides to make a tackle.
6. Easier access to injuries
Players are prone to injuries. Gaining access to and treating injuries is harder if the surface has lots of hairs.
Therefore, it is not surprising that patients get a clean shave before any surgery. Also, hairs can trap germs and infect open wounds.
A hairless leg makes it easier for the medical team to work on the legs immediately they are called upon when a player is injured. It is easier and smoother to apply medical aids on injuries.
7. Improves a player’s appearance in front of the camera
Sometimes, going hairless has nothing to do with enhancing performance. It is often about improving their photogenic appearance in front of the camera.
Hairless legs allow soccer players to better show off their rippling muscular thighs and calf. Shaving helps the muscular definitions on the legs to pop out. While soccer is a game of passion, it is also a means to wealth for some players.
Players with ‘sexy’ images tend to attract more followers on social media which enhances their earning.
For example, Cristiano Ronaldo has over 308 million followers on Instagram (2021). Therefore, he can charge as much as $1.6 million per sponsored post on the platform.
8. Better aerodynamics
Apparently, cyclists and swimmers are not the only ones that enjoy better aerodynamics by shaving their body hairs. However, there are no studies that prove that this works on soccer players and runners.
While better aerodynamics seems like a weird idea, it can have a psychological effect that actually helps the player to perform better.
When it comes to soccer, the smallest of changes can have massive impacts on your performance.
For example, Adama Traore that plays for Wolves rubs baby oil on his arms before any game. This makes him slippery so that it becomes difficult for opponents to grab or hold him back. While rubbing baby oil can seem like a ridiculous idea, it has worked for Adama.
9. Easy to get beautiful tattoos
Tattoos seem to be the new cool for soccer players now. Today you will find your favorite players including Lionel Messi with beautiful tattoos all over their bodies.
Tattoos are easier to draw on hairless legs. Also, long hair tends to cover the tattoos and take away its beauty.
How do soccer players remove leg hair?
Regardless of the reason, athletes need to shave their legs—and other parts of their bodies—once in a while. There are myriads of options available to a soccer player when it comes to getting rid of leg hairs.
Some hair removal options are simple and can be done at home by the player while others are complex and need the supervision of a professional.
Some methods are painful while with others you will not feel a thing. Likewise, some methods are cheap while others are pretty expensive.
Some methods have a short-term effect while others last longer.
Below are all the available options.
1. Shaving with a razor
It is not surprising that soccer players have become the image of the razor brand Gillette shaving stick. While the adverts only show them using it on their beards, shaving sticks can be used on the legs too. This is one of the cheapest and easily accessible methods of hair removal.
It takes only a few minutes to cover the entire length of both legs. Sadly, shaving with a razor is not totally safe—at least not for everyone.
It can lead to irritations that eventually cause razor bumps or ingrown hairs. Also, there is the risk of nicks and cuts.
One way to avoid these problems is to use razors designed for women. Also, replace the blades frequently and lubricate the skin with shaving foam or gel to minimize skin damage.
Lastly, remember to shave in the direction of your hair growth.
Although spearheaded by the Egyptians, this method has seen a wide usage for hair removal. It can be used for removing hairs on any part of the body. It is usually done by a specialist. However, you can also do it yourself by mixing 1/8 cup of warm water with 1/8 cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of white sugar.
This is a better option for soccer players because it doesn’t leave cuts like razors and it slows down hair regrowth and the effect is immediate.
Sugaring can be uncomfortable and painful too although the pain is not as much as waxing because the mixture doesn’t stick to the skin.
Space out your sugaring frequency between four to five weeks. It is best to wait for up to 24 hours after sugaring before engaging in training.
Using tweezers to pull off individual hairs is another effective way soccer players can get rid of their leg hairs.
Like shaving, you can easily do this at home at no extra cost.
The major disadvantage of this technique is that it is agonizingly slow, time-consuming, and the pain can be unbearable.
4. Depilatory cream
The main component of hair is keratin. These keratin are held together by disulfide bonds.
What depilatories do is break down this bond making the hair weak so that they easily wipe off from the skin.
The downsides of this method are the unpleasant odor of depilatory creams and potential irritation for people with sensitive skin.
To lower irritation or redness, make sure you don’t allow the creams to stay longer than they should.
Soccer players are used to pain and pushing their bodies to the limit. Therefore, they should easily deal with waxing.
In this method of hair removal, melted wax is applied to the skin a short strip at a time in the direction of hair growth.
The heat from the wax leads to the dilation of hair follicles making it easier to remove the entire length of hair from the root.
While waxing leaves smoother skin and takes longer for the hairs to regrow, it can cause redness and irritation. Using the same applicator stick for different clients can also lead to the spread of infection.
To minimize the risk of ingrown hairs, it is best to exfoliate the skin before waxing.
Here, threads are used to grab and remove hair from the roots. Unlike plucking which removes one hair at a time, threading can remove an entire row of hairs at once.
However, it is time-consuming and you may have to go over an area repeatedly. Also, threading can lead to irritation and the process of grabbing and pulling is not fun at all.
This is a prescription-only topical cream that has enzymes that slows down the regrowth of hair. While this is not a hair removal technique, it can be used in combination with other hair removal techniques to keep your skin smoother for longer.
If your ideal hair removal method is painful, you can use this cream to lower the frequency of your shaving—and catch your breath. Interestingly, Vaniqa is approved by the FDA.
8. Permanent hair removal techniques
Soccer players who do not want to visit a beauty shop every few weeks for hair removal can opt for a permanent option. The options available in this regard are listed below.
This method of permanent hair removal is over a century old. Here, fine needles are inserted into individual hair follicles followed by the application of electric currents to the hair roots.
The result is permanent and you will not have to worry about ingrown hairs.
The biggest challenge with this method is that it is tedious and time-consuming. Obviously, this is not something that you can do on your own and the price is on the high side.
Scarring and scabbing are often reported among those who have had this treatment.
This is a more recent shaving technique compared to the rest. Your dermatologist will use a laser machine that emits light at different pulse widths, energy output, and wavelengths to target the melanin in your hair.
Since this method targets the melanin in the hair, it is ineffective on blond and grey hairs. The treatment is usually done in a series of four to six weeks intervals.
Depending on the result the individual wants to achieve, it can take four to seven sessions to get there. However, the first session will likely eliminate up to 80 percent of hairs.
Laser treatment is expensive. The process is slightly painful too—although the pain is lesser than waxing.
Nevertheless, the long-lasting effect and high success rate are often worth the trouble.
Obviously, not every player fancy the idea of shaving their legs all the time. Players that don’t shave often wear pre-wrap. However, the pre-wrap tends to slide as the player’s leg gets sweaty. By shaving, the player can apply the tapes directly on the skin to improve stability.
While shaving the legs sounds feminine, it is a necessary procedure that male players have to undergo to boost their performance and limit their chances of getting injured.
Nevertheless, before undergoing any permanent hair removal treatment, make sure you do some background checks with other soccer players to know if any other person who has undergone a similar procedure has had any success. Where possible, ask for referrals to technicians or businesses that offer the best services or guarantee the best results.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!