Athletes of all levels are always on the lookout for the next best thing in sporting equipment, hoping to find a new piece of technology that promises better performance and quicker recovery without adding hours to their training schedule. Now, athletes and coaches should know that there is no magic pill for success – and breakthroughs in technology will occur as incremental improvements based on existing theories.
With this in mind, I recommend a healthy dose of skepticism when evaluating products that claim to boost performance in some way.
Things to look for when evaluating scientific claims:
1.) Has the product been independently tested, or are the claims based on “in house” studies alone?
2.) Do experiments control for the placebo effect?
3.) Are the proposed effects based on testable scientific theories?
4.) Do the proposed effects violate the principle laws of physics?*
*This might seem humorous, but you’d be surprised how many “breakthrough products” out there are based on magic, plasma fields, holograms, and free-energy transfer.
A Little Honesty Goes A Long Way.
Ok, so this post so far has been sort of a round-about way of getting to a point I wanted to make about SKINS compression and therapeutic apparel. I wanted to elicit the context of dishonest sporting goods in order to show the stark contrast between quackery claims and the full disclosure of evidence-based research conducted on SKINS.
Check out the SKINS Labs section of skinsusa.com. You’ll notice, in addition to product claims, a reference list pointing to actual peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. These articles aren’t written by SKINS product testers finding ways to market their equipment, but by researchers in the field with their own interests in the topic.
Take the article “The Effects of Wearing Lower-Body Compression Garments During Endurance Cycling” for example. Published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, the funding for this study came from the Queensland Academy of Sport Centre of Excellence, and not from the SKINS manufacturers. This is an important point because it eliminates a bias for the researchers to confirm claims made by the people signing their checks.
Looking at the same article, I pulled up a digital copy of the original publication to see if there were any erroneous claims made on the SKINS website.
The original article conclusion stated that “LBCG [lower body compression garments] were observed to elicit likely practically significant improvements in [power output] at [anaerobic threshold] during an incremental test and possible practically significant increases in muscle oxygenation economy during a cycling [1-hour time trial]” (Scanlan et al. 2008).
Ok, so in short, the SKINS website is making accurate claims about their products, and does not generalize beyond what can be backed-up with independent research!
This “academic honesty” or “full disclosure” on the part of SKINS has gotten the attention of national organizations, such as USA Triathlon, who use SKINS as their official supplier of compression and therapeutic wear. I also have unconfirmed information that the USA Swimming National Team uses/will uses SKINS as recovery aids.
Several SKINS products are available at Kast-A-Way Swimwear.