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Applying Space Science to Sports Science

Elite athletes are always looking for a competitive edge in terms of performance and recovery. Cape Bionics apply the scientific principles of space suit design to athletic compression garments to ensure that athletes receive the most beneficial compression garments possible.  So how exactly does space science apply to sports science?

Physiological effects of space travel

Space travel places a huge amount of physiological strain on the human body. The weightlessness experienced in microgravity can result in a significant loss of muscle mass and bone mass. Bone loss during a prolonged space mission can be as much as 2% per month which puts astronauts at risk of developing severe osteoporosis and increases susceptibility to fractures on return to earth.   The cardiovascular system is also significantly impacted as blood pressure becomes equal over the body, blood volume reduces about 11%, and cardiac muscle mass reduces about 8-10%.  It has been shown that compression can play a vital role in minimising these loses experienced by astronauts on long space missions, and in preparation for return back to Earth.

Astronauts wear compression garments too!

Cape Bionics founder Dr James Waldie has spent over 20 years researching and designing compression suits for astronauts. He was involved with a number spacesuit programs with MIT, NASA and the European Space Agency, and developed his own skinsuit design which was used on the International Space Station. As part of his research, Dr Waldie measured the effects of different compression regimes on the skin and discovered the optimum compression regimes for the greatest physiological benefits.

In order to achieve the greatest benefits from the compression, the space suits required extreme precision and custom sizing. Dr Waldie developed new protocols and algorithms to tailor the garments to fit each astronaut individually. The suits became state-of-the-art, combining the latest medical and aerospace compression designs with new developments in materials, custom-fabrication and physiological measurement.    

So how does this apply to athletes?

In the development of the space suits, Dr Waldie realised that the athletic population has been left behind in the development of leading edge compression wear. Off the shelf athletic compression garments have no individual sizing or specific compression regimes making them more of a fashion item rather than a piece of sporting equipment to optimise performance and recovery.

Cape Bionics was founded with the intention of providing athletes with access to the most advanced compression wear possible, by using technology developed for and with the medical and aerospace industries to ensure optimum fit and compression. Research has shown that good fitting compression wear is critical for maximising the physiological benefits.  Poorly fitting compression garments have been shown to have little effect on performance and recovery, and in some cases may have detrimental effects. Cape ensure that athletes receive custom fitted compression wear based on a 3D scan to guarantee optimum fit and therefore greater physiological benefits.  As each garment is custom fit, the precise and optimum compression regime can be imposed for optimum benefit for different applications, such as travel, recovery, performance and rehabilitation.

By combining custom sizing and specific compression regimes based on years of research, experience and validation at NASA, Cape Bionics provide the most advanced compression garments both on and off the planet!

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