Hey, these Skins really work!

o say I’m slow to jump on the bandwagon is an understatement. When I was in college studying to be an engineer, I learned enough about technical language and figures to see through most marketing gimmicks. So when we started selling compression garments, I chuckled to myself at all the knuckle heads who would buy such a load of malarkey.

Rewind to a month ago. The Skins rep came by the warehouse to give us a pitch on their compression garments. Of course I wanted to listen to all he had to say. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really pick anything out of it that sounded like a farce. And even worse, he had us all put on arm warmers so that we would experience the product while we listened.  I couldn’t resist. It’s like those darn car salesmen, once you’re in the car, you’re hooked! Though I wasn’t hooked on Skins yet, I was intrigued. I pass his info on to you.

To properly understand Skins, you must understand where the company comes from. Skins was started in 1996 in Australia by a group of physiotherapists who played Rugby together. Their original thought was if they could increase the venous return (blood flow to the heart) of the body through gradient compression, it would be a huge benefit to their performance and recovery. So they set out to de-tune medical grade compression so that it would actually increase blood flow. Medical grade compression is great for preventing clots and slowing down blood flow (think back to when you were bleeding badly and your mom told you to put pressure on the wound) but that’s not what the Rugby players wanted. Eventually, they found a sweet spot of compression that actually increases blood flow. So they patented a design for it, including a special knit called Warp knit, and violá, Skins is born.

I wondered why I had never heard of Skins before until I started working at Arts, but I found out that I had seen them, I just didn’t know it. Skins didn’t go public until after the turn of the century. They originally focused on providing garments to professional athletes. You know those arm and leg sleeves you see on NBA players?  Many of them are Skins compression garments without the labels. If you’re like me, you’ll want to know how these spandex pieces actually work, but since I’d rather you not fall asleep reading the blog, click here for all the techie stuff.

So fast forward now to last weekend, where my story comes in. My old roommates and I decided to go backpacking in the Tehipite Valley. Now Tehipite Valley is an unknown jewel when it comes to the Sierras. We found out why when we had to hike 17 miles of grueling trail to get there… and that’s the short way in! Not to mention (why do people say that when they’re about to say something!) there’s a 3 mile stretch of trail that drops 3000ft of elevation – not for the casual hiker. We made it to the valley in 2 days, and hung out the next. I tried to recover on that rest day by alternately sitting in and out of the river.  After 18 miles (we got lost for at least a mile) of hiking and 50lbs on my back, my body was beat. The way out was just as bad, and my legs decided that they didn’t want to function correctly after the 3000ft, 3 mile ascent out of the valley. By the time I reached the car, my right knee was swollen and hurting, and my upper left gastrocnemius (aka calf) was strained to the point that I couldn’t run and was walking with a limp. Sterling, one of the warehouse employees, encouraged me to try Skins to increase blood flow to and through my legs and that it would help with the pain. I bit the bullet and bought a pair of the Travel and Recovery Tights and I kid you not, within a half hour, my muscle pain had decreased considerably. I am seriously amazed at how much better my legs feel since putting these tights on. I’ve worn them all day for a week now and I don’t even get hot in them – no it’s not cold here either. They’re supposed to be incredibly breathable and sweat wicking – all I can say is they work and work well. My legs just feel better – less pain. I’m still waiting for the placebo effect to wear off. If it does, I’ll let you know.

Check out the Skins stuff at Artscyclery.com and if you decide to go hiking 17 miles with 50 lbs on your back, you might as well go to the Tehipite Valley, it’s totally worth it.

Hammer On