The University has provided Olympic swimmer Ben Proud with a pair of ‘magic pants’ to help his performance in Rio this summer.
Professor Andrew Edwards, Dean of Sport & Health Sciences at the University said: “They will aid Ben Proud’s ability to be ‘race ready’ as soon as possible, something which is part of our research and sport science support work for elite sports people.”
When asked what they feel like to wear, Proud said: “It’s like someone squeezing your leg, so air rushes into the different parts of the trousers so your leg gets compressed. The air rushes out of your leg and back to your heart to get re-oxygenated with all the nutrients ready to flush around to replenish all the different parts of your body. It’s good after travel to get your blood flowing again to get rid of any waste products that get built up during flights, racing, and after competing.
“I don’t think any other university would allow one of their students to take away a piece of kit like the Normatec pants away and I’m taking them to a training camp, which is definitely the most crucial time for it. I feel quite fortunate just to get access to them and to be given the trust to take them away with me.”
Proud said the equipment is ‘a massive part’ of his recovery: “It’s is a new type of kit globally, which not many people have access to. Once we heard about the leggings we knew that if we were able to get our hands on them it would give us that extra boost. With the University providing them, it’s going to help our recovery in and out of travelling and during competitions.”
They are designed to help elite retain good blood flow after long haul flights. Created by a physician bioengineer to enhance blood flow and speed recovery, the leggings have three beneficial elements of massaging technology designed to improve recovery. One is ‘pulsing’, which mimics the muscle pump of legs and arms to enhance the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs after an intense workout.
The next is that they use hold pressures to keep fluids from being forced the wrong direction, in the same way that veins and lymphatic vessels have one-way valves to prevent fluid backflow.
Because extended static pressure can be detrimental to the body’s normal circulatory flow, sequential pulse technology releases the hold pressures once they are no longer needed to prevent backflow. By releasing the hold pressure in each zone as soon as possible, each portion of the limb gains maximum rest time without a significant pause between compression cycles. The magic pants are made by Normatec Pulse.
It can be quite common to develop a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) due to prolonged inactivity and pressure issues on aircraft. The trousers will be worn as soon as Proud gets off the flight and have different settings from between half an hour to an hour. Proud says: “During flights we can’t just sit down and wait until the flight is over, we have to make sure that every 20 minutes we’re getting up, walking around, keeping mobile and not just sat there getting stale.”
Other rules include no caffeine before a flight, so athletes remain hydrated, and making sure protein intake is right. Proud says flights can be quite detrimental to performance: “You can travel and then swim terribly the next day. So the smaller you can make that window of feeling tired and exhausted after a flight, the better your racing can become.”
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