Compressport are specialists in compression wear and on top of their association with triathletes such as Chrissie Wellington and Olivier Marceau have a sponsorship deal with ProTour team AG2R. While the UCI have banned compression clothing on the grounds that it may enhance performance, the team use it in training and for recovery once they're off the bike.
The theory behind compression wear is that applying pressure to a muscle such as the calf accelerates blood flow and gets more oxygen to the working muscles. This increased flow is said to improve lactic acid clearance and help you work harder for longer. The same may be true post-exercise, with increased muscular blood flow delaying or minimising soreness. Compressport also reckon their products reduce impact, preventing injury and muscle fatigue.
They stopped by the office this week to show us a handful of products that may be of interest to cyclists. Forquad (£54/pair) are supports for the thigh muscles and sit from just above the knee to midway up the thigh. As with all their products they are size specific, with the Forquad supports requiring the measurement from the top and bottom of the thigh.
The Calf Guards UR2 (£36/pair) perform the same function on the lower leg, but with added essential oils and are said to help against cramping and shin splints. An initial test showed both fitted comfortably under bib tights, but we were told that research and development of bib tights with in-built compression was under way, although a long way from full production.
Socks come in two varieties; Full and shorter Pro Racing. The Full Socks (£35), as with the Pro Racing socks, have "3D.DOTS", pertruding dots that are said to increase shock absorption and grip, stimulate blood flow and increase protection of the Achilles tendon. Despite the extreme compression of the rest of the foot and leg, the toes are free to move around in what they call an Ergoformable toe piece, which opens them up and stops them being squashed together. As much as you can wear them during exercise, they are applicable post-workout, stimulating blood flow to the damaged muscles that need it most.
The bike-specific Pro Racing Socks (£15) have all the properties of the full length socks but pull up to just above the ankle. They also have a "silver ion treatment" which is said to stop the spread of bacteria and prevent odour.
Pro Racing Sock
We'll be putting some of the products to the test soon - look out for a full review next week. All products are available directly from their website, www.compressport.uk.com.