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CAPE speak to Dr Ian McKeown Head of High-Performance from Port Adelaide on custom compression

2020 has been a year like no other, particularly for elite sport. The 2020 AFL season has posed significant challenges for players and coaches, due to the change in match fixtures and the reduced recovery time between games. Enhancing player recovery has become more important than ever. Cape were able to assist Port Adelaide in 2020 by proving customised compression garments for the players. Our Sports Physiologist Dr Annette Eastwood caught up with Dr Ian McKeown, Head of High Performance at Port Adelaide Football Club, to discuss how Cape compression garments assisted Port Adelaide players during the 2020 AFL season.

AE: Why did you choose Cape and what advantages do you think they have over other companies?

The most obvious reason is that we need our players to feel like they are more prepared than anybody else. We're covering all bases with them and this is a great tangible example of us giving each individual exactly what they need. The players are obviously very excited about it, they love the special attention that they get, the quality of the garments, the intelligence going into the product, this is what really makes me comfortable with it. The Cape product ticks a lot of boxes for us.

AE: Which garments have you got?

We have the recovery ones [calf sleeves]. A few have got knee sleeves as well for rehab for our long term injured and joint compromised players.

AE: What do the players think of them?

The boys really liked the from the first time that they wore them, a lot of them wouldn’t take them off! They provide feedback with their compliance. We were travelling intensively this season, we were flying in and out on the day of games. The boys were wearing them as they travelled to the game and on the way back too. Anything that they felt they could do to make themselves step off the plane in a better position they were really happy to do. I think that the belief effect, the fact that they were turning up with technology and the preparation, meant they were ready to go. They are actually really interested in what the product does, many asking lots of questions during the scanning process. Then you throw in the space technology and they love it!

AE: What do the players with injuries think of the garments, do they find them effective?

The biggest thing for them is managing swelling and they are great for that. Even just having something supportive or under the knee can help them. They didn't wear them during training but certainly immediately post training if they were sore.

AE: What about the recovery garments that the players are wearing. How are you using those?

We’re using them post game, we have guidelines in place for them. They will use the sleeves after games and when we are in big training blocks during preseason you'll typically see them wearing them after they finished all their load for the day. You'll see them wearing Cape as they’re walking out.

AE: What benefits do the garments have on player recovery?

They feel better when the garments are worn, whether it's immediately or whether it's afterwards. If we weren't getting that benefit, that compliance wouldn't be as high as it is, so I read a fair amount into that. We do keep a really close eye on their feedback. They do say they feel better, even the guys that have chronic calf issues or lower limb injuries, history of bone stress etc. They find the garments really beneficial.

They’re not getting as sore as they typically would have, they are in a much better position and their readiness to train is higher because of the support environment we put around them, which includes the Cape products to a high degree.

AE: Do they wear them overnight?

Yes a lot of them do and I think that that's a massive benefit. The Adelaide summer is pretty hot so it’s a bonus benefit to the sleeve being calf only or lower limb only, it means we have some direct benefit rather than nothing, which was great for during sleep in particular.

AE: This year particularly has been challenging over the competitive season with the shorter time between games. So how has Cape helped assist you in meeting the demands of this season?

Not only were we having only four day breaks, but we're also doing that with travel immediately post game as well. So having as many passive treatments as possible and having them immediately ready to go is important. Top of the list was making sure that they had their sleeves on when we jumped on the plane to get home. It certainly gives us an opportunity to make sure that we are doing everything we can to assist their recovery. As much as it's a four day break it's also about making sure they can train in two days as we need to get them out and moving before the next game.

AE: Do you think Cape garments have merit for other sports and other athletes outside of AFL?

It's for everybody. People are all shapes and sizes and I think that it doesn't stop at AFL. I'm sure no matter what sports that people are training for, or at what level, I think that there's a benefit to having the Cape products, I absolutely believe that.

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