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New suit for athletes offers improved energy output and muscle management

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February 19, 2006

Kati Wilhelm models the Clima TechFit cross-country suit

Kati Wilhelm models the Clima TechFit cross-country suit

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February 20, 2006 Adidas has debuted an athletic second skin at the Turin winter Olympics which it claims offers a significant improvement in energy output of the wearer. In controlled laboratory tests conducted together with the University of Calgary, the new Clima TechFit cross-country suit offers an average 5.3% improvement in energy output and 1.1% faster sprint time when measured over 30 metres. Most importantly, the tests measured a 1.3% reduction in oxygen consumption when wearing the new suit. The suit works by using compression strips that link the legs and the upper body with the power centre of the body. The suit employs a number of technologies to work its magic, one of which involves the compression strips supporting leg muscles and reducing muscle vibration and oscillation, thus reducing energy loss and muscle fatigue for better “muscle management.” The power bands embodied in the suit along key muscle groups contract and expand together with the muscles and thereby store energy when stretching and return energy when contracting back. Through the linking and interaction of all muscles, the suit enables greater efficiency to be achieved.

adidas began work on the new suit five years ago with a view to finding a supportive structure that would help to delay fatigue and enhance both short and long term performance. The research yielded what has become adidas’ new Clima TechFit cross-country suit which “applies compression in key areas and enhances explosive power.”

“The first stage was to look at top athletes and see how they move,” says Project Leader James Lamont of the adidas innovation team, and relatively soon it became clear that the athlete's muscles were the key to the new technology as individual groups of muscles are responsible for fast movement. “As a result we could understand how we could complement the movements they make - by applying compression in key areas and enhancing their explosive power with Powerweb bands.”

The signs of fatigue are visually familiar – the upper body leans forward, the shoulders droop slightly, and arm and leg movements are not as rounded as they once were. For athletes, the additional problem is that with these symptoms, it is more difficult to breathe, which means less oxygen intake and the "non-rounded" movements lack efficiency, which means more energy is wasted with every metre.

Compression and energy management

Compression supports leg muscles and reduces muscle vibration and oscillation, thus reducing energy loss and muscle fatigue. The Powerweb technology serves as energy management. The simple mechanism: Follow the natural movements of the muscles and enhance the movements. TPU power bands embodied in the suit along key muscle groups contract and expand together with the muscles and thereby store energy when stretching and return energy when contracting back.

Additionally, the Powerweb bands link the legs with the power centre of the body, the abdominal muscles, and also with the upper body. On the one hand, through the interaction of all muscles, greater efficiency is achieved, while on the other hand athletes feel a support function which automatically helps them to maintain a more upright position.

“We started developing the suit five years ago,” James Lamont explains. “Firstly for athletes in the sprint sector, and taking it from there we have continually expanded and improved the concept.” One of the first prototypes of the suit caused a big surprise back in 2003, when Kim Collins became World Sprint Champion in the 100 metres in Paris.

The new suit has been thoroughly tested.

In controlled laboratory tests conducted together with the University of Calgary, an average 5.3% improvement in energy output and 1.1% faster sprint time was measured over 30 metres. But most importantly, the testers registered a 1.3% reduction in oxygen consumption on test subjects wearing the new suit. A clear indication that the onset of fatigue is delayed.

With its shaped, three-dimensional engineering, the adidas Clima TechFit suit fits like a second skin, helping muscles work more powerfully and efficiently while maintaining your body at the optimum temperature using the Clima365 system and Powerweb technology.

Clima365 system: Its objective is to provide athletes with the optimal comfort and climate solution using the latest technologies.

ClimaLite technology: The fabric wicks and transports sweat away from the skin to the outer fabric face for quick evaporation. ClimaLite thus enhances the body’s natural temperature regulation functions.

ClimaProof technology: The fabric will stop wind and rain while maximizing sweat evaporation. ClimaProof® technology uses a thin breathable membrane located in a strategic position on the suit to prevent wind chill effect and to optimize freedom of movement.

Powerweb technology (i.e. TPU bands): The highly elastic TPU bands (TPU = thermoplastic urethane) support the natural expansion and contraction of the musculoskeletal system while performing. They provide elastic support and performance enhancement of key muscle groups.

Power Lycra technology: Controls and reduces muscle vibration, maximizing power while reducing energy loss, muscle fatigue and the risk of cramps.

Further details on the suit as they come to hand. The suits are being won by selected athletes at Turin, including Kati Wilhelm, Alexander Wolf, Simon Hallenbarter and Sven Fischer.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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