Athleform LABS: Recoil + Compression Base Layers
Compression wear was first introduced around 60 years ago where they were mainly used as a medical stocking to create pressure around the muscle, bone and connective tissue. Over the last few decades though, compression wear has found its way into most aspects of performance sports and training.
Basic compression garments provide several indirect benefits:
- They decrease the risk of musculoskeletal injuries by keeping muscles warm
- They reduce muscle fatigue and injuries resulting from enhanced training (Doan et al. 2003)
- They separate the groin and thigh muscles for reduced chafing
- They eliminate friction and vibration within the musculature to preserve energy and increase power output (Doan et al. 2003)
- They Improve recovery bu increasing venous return and removing waste products (Ali et al. 2007; Davies et al. 2009).
- They decrease perceived muscle soreness (Bernhardt and Anderson 2005; Davies et al. 2009)
But when it comes to the kind of movement required for ballistic sports -- like throwing, bowling, swinging and kicking -- compression garments don’t help much. Realizing that, we set out to create a product that provides the benefits of compression, with the added support these kinds of movements require, so as to improve both performance and power output. The result is Athleform’s first product:
The Recoil + Compression Elite Performance Base Layer
We identified hip and shoulder separation as a key area where support would improve ballistic movements. Our research showed that the area between the shoulders and the hips can be strategically wrapped with a TPU layer to provide support and return on energy (recoiling) during flexion and extension phases. This was the genesis of our Recoil technology. The Recoil design anchors the shoulders with the hips, so that energy that would otherwise be lost with muscular vibration and other leakages is, for the most part, returned when an athlete moves away from the stationary position. The benefit from this is two-fold:
- It provides more speed and power during ballistic movements like throwing or swinging, and
- It provides support and protection from injuries as the movement is contained within optimal limits of the neutral position.
Prototyping and materials
While adding our Recoil technology to standard compression fabrics, we started out by testing lighter and less elastic materials but found that adding the Recoil bands limited could become restrictive. So we use a customized fabric yarn with a high spandex ratio, which allows both unrestrained movement and optimized recoil.
The Recoil bands themselves are made from a specialized, heat-treated TPU, which we found was extremely effective, but lacked breathability. To fix this, we used lasers to make small cuts in the fabric, which enhanced ventilation without compromising the benefits of the recoil effect. We then added large ventilation areas to the base layer to provide additional cooling.
The Recoil Compression Line supports the snap-back effect for greater speed and power generation. Together, compression and recoiling enhance ballistic movements for elite performance.