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Nottingham varsity develops performance boosting fabrics
Dec '13
A unique fabric put through its paces by textile researchers at Nottingham Trent University for sportswear manufacturer Kurio Performance is helping to boost the performance of elite athletes.

The specialist firm is producing compression garments made from material with a technical specification developed by the university’s Advanced Textiles Research Group.

The work included detailed testing and scientific analysis of the material and sourcing a suitable supplier.

Compression clothing helps performance and speeds recovery by improving blood flow to the muscles. Wearing post-exercise compression clothing can also cut recovery time by helping to clear build-up of lactic acid.

For leggings, optimum results come from graduated pressure being applied – with the highest levels around the ankles and feet, decreasing as it rises up the leg.

Tops can be custom-fitted to help prevent cramp developing in the arms and hands. They are used by the likes of cyclists and motorcyclists.

Mansfield-based Kurio’s customers already include ice hockey players – such as Nottingham Panthers captain David Clarke and Sheffield Steelers’ Danny Meyers – rugby league players, premiership footballers, ice skaters and marathon runners.

Kurio director David Hallam said: “Off-the-shelf clothing can only apply optimum pressure to a ‘standard leg’ but body shapes vary hugely. Imagine a rugby league player’s well-developed thigh muscles compared to those of a much leaner marathon runner.

“Unless they are made to measure, a pair of leggings for the rugby player would apply little pressure around the ankles and feet but be too tight around the thighs – possibly resulting in a tourniquet effect, and actually reducing blood flow to the muscles.

“By tailoring the cut of the fabric according to measurements taken at a series of key points we are able to maintain the optimum level of compression all the way up the leg.”

Technical textiles engineer and postgraduate researcher Anura Rathnayake worked with Kurio after company chiefs approached Nottingham Trent University’s Future Factory, which helps small and medium-sized businesses in the East Midlands design and develop sustainable products, practices and processes.

Mr Rathnayake said: “The key task was carrying out textile lab tests such as tensile recovery tests, abrasion tests, microscopic analysis and washing trials to establish a fabric specification. 

“Tests were carried out according to British standards. Our scientific analysis report helped to establish technical specifications for the raw materials and finished products.

“We then presented our findings to manufacturers and sourced a supplier for Kurio.”

Nottingham Panthers captain David Clarke said: “These garments have really helped me to perform to my optimum. After a hard training session or games I sleep in the recovery leggings and I do not suffer any soreness the next day.”

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