The Science behind compression; a closer look
They say it can improve sporting performance and endurance, increase muscle efficiency and power, enhance recovery time and reduce the risk of injury. We’re taking a closer look at compression; what it does to the body, why you need it for training, racing and recovery, and how the Zone3 RX3 Performance Compression Tights were made by athletes, for athletes.
History of compression
Compression garments began in the medical field, traditionally used to treat circulatory diseases such as lymphedema which commonly causes swelling in the arms and legs. The graduated compression garments worn by athletes today follows the same principle whilst incorporating the latest technology and using precise materials to enhance performance and comfort whilst training, racing or recovering.
What is graduated compression?
Graded compression creates a varying level of tightness or pressure throughout the compression garment in order to promote increased venous blood flow to the heart and stimulate lymph flow in a specific limb. So, in the case of the RX3 Compression Tights, the highest level of compression will be at the ankle, the next at the calf and so on, graduating and easing off the pressure as you work up to the thigh.
Encouraging blood flow away from the working limbs and towards to the heart helps to reduce aching and swelling, whilst lymphatic stimulation is important to relieve fluid and therefore reduce swelling post-exercise. Unlike our circulatory blood system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, like the heart, to move fluid to the lymph glands. So, lymph drainage can be encouraged with exercise and compression.
Zone3’s step into compression
The new Zone RX3 compression garments took four years to develop. They were tried and tested and tested again. Despite years of experience behind us, we were determined to gain additional, invaluable insight from professional athletes but also accurate results from real-life testing by amateur and elite athletes. These garments had to be endorsed by the people who use them, for performance and recovery but also for comfort and design. We wanted to give athletes brand new, key pieces of kit that performed in sync with them. After four years we had a design steered by athletes and garments that had been validated by lab-testing - the RX3 Performance Compression range was born.
The final test
To ensure our compression garments provided the correct level of graduated compression, we had Progressive Sports Technologies conduct the necessary lab testing.
Progressive Sports Technologies ‘operates from the world-leading Sports Technology Institute laboratories at Loughborough University and having worked with some of the world’s biggest brands, they maintain a highly skilled research and development team who provide research and assistance throughout a products’ development stage to fine tune and enhance every detail before validating its effectiveness. This is the most important part of the process, providing accurate data and reassurance on the performance of the final product.
The science of graduated compression
The industry follows the ‘Sigel profile’ as a basis for validating compression, which concluded that the average femoral vein blood flow is increased to 138.4% baseline with a graduation of compression of 18mmHg at the ankle and 8mmHg at the thigh.
Key measurements had to be considered during the development of the RX3 range in order to meet the requirements for effective graduated compression. The results for the Zone3 RX3 Performance Compression Tights, for example, provide pressure ratings consistent with this target.
The graph below shows the pressure ratings at each point of the leg for the Zone3 RX3 Performance Compression Tight, which confirms that our tights offer graduated compression from the calf to the thigh at the correct level.
Ankle at point of its minimum girth
Calf at its maximum girth
Just below tibial tuberosity
Centre of patella and over the back of the knee
Half way between crutch and the centre of its knee
5cm below crotch
A closer look at the Zone3 RX3 Performance Compression Tights
Created by athletes and sports scientists for athletes means we were able to understand how to design our tights to support the key muscle groups, empowering the user to perform at their very best during and after exercise.
It was vital that we found fabric that could offer support, endurance, durability, comfort and breathability whilst being able to deal with vigorous training, races and recovery-wear and still maintain its shape and the correct level of compression.
The Italian-made RX3 fabric and Revolution Energy fabric supports the iliotibial band and knee, whilst increasing the blood flow to the calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes. This helps to reduce lactic acid build up, improve performance and recovery time.
The Zone3 RX3 Performance Compression Tights have been crafted from this unique combination of fabric, which also provides a firm, soft fit for optimum comfort whilst training, it actively wicks away sweat from the skin to regulate temperature and keep the user dry and the muscles warm.
For optimum performance and comfort every aspect of the garment had to be considered, from the elasticated waistband for a firm, comfortable fit, inclusion of multiple pockets and heat-bonded PU tape on the for ease of removal, to the squat-tested ‘blackout’ design for workout confidence, breathable wicking fabric with UPF 50 and antibacterial properties and the heat bonded PU tape on the lower leg, specifically positioned to support the soleus, an area which can commonly suffer from pain and injury.
We left no details untouched in the making of the Zone3 RX3 Performance Compression garments and the proof is your performance and recovery – it’s time you put real compression to the test.