Compression Gear – Is There a Better Alternative?

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November 24, 2014
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Compression Gear – Is There a Better Alternative?

Energy Textiles has recently added a new line of Infrared-Active compression gear. The new gear is now available online, and Energy Textiles is providing their customers with information on the benefits of infrared-active athletic gear over regular compression gear.

The Boston Globe recently reported that another contract has been signed for Under Armour to provide team gear for the U.S. Olympic speedskaters for the next eight years. In light of this decision, Energy Textiles contemplates whether or not this was a choice based on sound scientific data or just a leap of faith based on the current compression fad.

“U.S. Olympic Officials: It Wasn’t Suits That Hurt Speedskaters,” said the headline following the debacle in Sochi last winter. Everything from bad coaching decisions to slow ice has been blamed for the poor showing of the formerly dazzling teammates. Scrutiny of the compression suits has been mostly deflected by the coaches and athletes.

The basis of compression gear was an initial treatment for swelling disorders due to poor circulation and lymph drainage by avoiding pooling of blood in the veins of immobile, circulatory-compromised patients. Under pressure and trapped in the veins, fluid actually leaks out of the blood vessels, causing swelling. Graduated compression stockings create positive pressure across one-way valves in the veins, countering the effects of gravity and distended, varicose veins, to encourage blood flow back to the heart. For this reason, the stockings are also used to reduce the risk of venous thrombosis–clots–in immobile patients.

However, this has led to the development of wide-ranging compression gear for athletes which is not graduated in pressure and which does not start at a distal (far) point from the heart where it could prevent blood pooling, but rather is meant for parts of the body (elbow, torso, calf, etc.) where it can actually restrict the flow of blood on both sides of the compression garment in a “tourniquet effect.”

Picture a pliable rubber hose with a tight band around the half-way mark. The water coming in from the spigot will be impeded by the band as it tries to reach the area past the band. And fluid trapped in the distal (far) end will have trouble emptying fully toward the other direction. Similarly, the arteries bringing fresh blood to the muscles can be impeded by compression, as well as the used blood the veins are attempting to return to the heart for more oxygen.

Athletes attempting to achieve optimal blood flow in both directions (to feed the muscles and carry off waste products) may be impeding the flow of blood in the same way whenever they wear a compression garment that is not graduated and does not start at the most distal part of the body they are attempting to feed. Muscles need oxygenated blood and nutrients to perform optimally and to carry off waste products, and if the flow of blood is impeded, peak performance is likely not possible for very long.

Numerous studies have attempted to prove that the tight-fitting apparel benefits athletic performance; however the results show little, if any, performance enhancements from compression. Obvious benefits of wearing compression garments include reduction of vibration and support. And there are testimonials of reduced soreness in the days following athletic events.

So what other external innovations, based on scientific evidence, are there to actually help athletic performance? What can help feed the muscles more oxygenated blood and make the best use of the body’s naturally-produced energy? And—is there a way to make compression work better–for those who prefer compression gear? The answer is infrared-active athletic gear.

Energy Textiles produces a patented blend of 13 optically responsive minerals which are imbedded in polyester yarn designed to absorb energy given off by the body in the form of heat and light, and reflect that energy back into the body in the form of infrared light. This infrared-active fabric is designed to increase nitric oxide which can trigger increased microcirculation of the capillary bed, raising local oxygen levels anywhere from 5 to 30 percent. Increased circulation helps deliver more oxygen to the muscle tissues, which can then metabolize more glucose into more muscle fuel, or ATP, resulting in more energy for the body.

Better performance, quicker recovery, pain relief and balanced temperature have been experienced by Infrared Technology wearers and documented in scientific studies. The minerals cannot wash out of the yarn due to a patented process of manufacturing the yarn, as opposed to some forms of infrared-active fabric which have a coating on them.

Infrared active yarn can be blended with other yarns such as cotton (sheets), wool, bamboo (socks) and elastic compression yarns to improve on the performance of these fibers. The circulation enhancing effects of our textiles can help counter some of the negative effects of compression. Compression infrared active gear is designed to keep the circulation flowing while providing firm support.

Energy Textiles is based on science and tested on humans, and new uses for infrared active technology are being discovered every day. Each new product is tested in our laboratory to make sure the product raises the TCP02 (a measurement of oxygen saturation in the body) a minimum of 7-20 percent before being released on the market. In addition third-party research studies are continuing and discovering more and more positive effects of infrared active textiles.

For those who simply can’t give up their compression gear, but want better performance, the good news is they don’t have to. Energy Textile’s new line of Infrared-Active compression gear is now online!

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