By Andy Wray, Founder at iGD Sport
Compression has seen a rise in use within sport over the last decade and is now a mainstay within an athletes’ recovery program.
I first came across the use of compression leggings when I was competing in ultra-marathons. The high-intensity nature of these events put my body into extreme situations which highlighted the need for added support in key areas. These support areas created the key properties which are core to iGD Sport's compression garments today.
Compression fabric in high-intensity environments
My first discovery was that fast-drying compression fabric is paramount when running for up to 15 hours in one of these competitions.
Not only did having to change clothing result in lost time which, when you feel exhausted, is an even more difficult task to complete, having fast-drying properties in tightly fitted fabric minimises abrasions on the skin. The muscular support that compression fabric gives you over a 100km run allows you to get that little extra performance when the going gets tough, since it helps to reduce microtrauma within the muscular systems.
Not only did I recognise most runners were wearing compression leggings, but I was also interested to know why at the end of a race you would see many athletes laid on their backs with their heels raised up against a wall. On questioning a competitor about this unusual post-run position, I was interested to hear it helped in recovery.
Adding compressing leggings to the mix created a supercharged recovery technique.
Postural drainage allowed the toxins created during exercise to easily drain away within the blood supply and lymphatic systems and, by adding compressing leggings to the mix, it created a supercharged recovery technique.
I tried it and was amazed at how great my legs felt the next day. Having ran 100km in 12 hours I was back in the gym the very next day, training my clients and even running myself.
Compression fabric in elite sports
Fast-forward to trialing out my own compression company and I began to work with professional Rugby League teams, a sport I had been part of since the age of 6 and turning professional myself at 16.
Teams like Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, Hull FC and Toronto Wolfpack would always travel in compression leggings and even sleep in them in order to recover as much as possible for their next training session or game.
This maximises the number of gains within training, knowing your body is fully ready to take on the training task or opposing teams.
Coaches would construct a recovery board within their camps so players could display how recovered they were by noting down whether they had worn compression, taken on enough fluids, eaten correctly and slept for long enough. This gave the coach an indication as to how prepared his team was for the upcoming games.
Compression fabric in the everyday athlete
These experiences with high-intensity events and elite sports gave me the knowledge and grounding to become creative with the design process around compression fabric.
I aimed to tailor the compression fabric to fit athletes anatomically, giving them access to all of the key properties that I had seen become so crucial in the most extreme of situations.
Quads and hamstrings, groins, calves and upper body were my initial focus and the result was the iGD Sport catalogue of compression products that had been tested on the elite athelete, but was made accessible for the everyday athlete.
Our mission at iGD Sport is to empower EVERYONE to train harder and recover faster in whatever your chosen sport or activity is. The reality of achieving the goal of pushing that bit further is that elements of support are needed in the right areas though, and through science and real-world experience I'm extremely proud that iGD Sport has become the compression wear support of choice for both elite and everyday athletes.