Compression is relatively new in sports textiles, a direct loan from the medical field. Graduated knits create a compression effect, exerting strong pressure on the ankle but gradually loosening in the upper-leg area near the thigh. This technology promotes circulation, reduces the build-up of lactic acid (which causes cramps), and speeds up recovery after physical effort. Other benefits include better proprioception (precision gestures) and a feeling of support, which endurance athletes especially value.
Conventional synthetics (polyamide, polyester, elastane) are mainly produced by processing petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Alternative chemical processes are now gradually being developed that produce raw materials from biomass – corn, beets, or sometimes agricultural waste. These so-called “bio-based” materials are not only renewable but also biodegradable in some cases. This textile industry sector is still in its infancy, and these products are not yet widely marketed. However, the efforts of some manufacturers deserve recognition. The American company Invista developed a bio-based Lycra in 2014. The Italian company Fulgar recently developed a polyamide known as Evo, produced from castor oil. Radici in Italy and Toray in Japan both offer biosynthetic polyesters.