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  • February 24, 2021 3 min read

    Compression: A Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

    At Pure Athlete, we believe in utilizing the best technology to enhance performance. Having the best technology for achievement will have you ready and energized for whatever adventure you are going on. Compression is a big part of many of our most beloved and best-selling products, but where exactly did compression technology come from? And how old is the use of compression garments? Read on to find out these answers and more. 

    Healthline cites a recent study from Persistence Market Research that anticipates a hefty increase for the compression wear market. In the  study, Persistence “predicts the global compression therapy industry will expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 5.2 percent between 2014 and 2020.The study concluded that the industry, which was valued at $2.38 billion in 2014, will balloon to $3.23 billion in 2020.”

    With numbers like that, it’s easy to believe that perhaps compression science began at a hallowed institution or with a revolutionary marketing campaign, but the history of compression technology, in actuality, has very humble beginnings. 

    The Humble Beginnings of Compression

    The genesis of compression technology, as we know it today, starts with one man, Conrad Jobst.  Jobst was the epitome of the American Dream. An immigrant from Germany, Jobst studied engineering in his home country and worked in Switzerland, Russia, England, France, and Italy before becoming the chief engineer of the Ames Bonner Brush company in 1913 in Toledo, Ohio. Jobst was a creative inventor and innovator and he developed many patents and inventions, some of which include the hardtop convertible, compression pumps, ribbon wire, and hydraulic presses.

    Conrad Jobst (pictured above), photo courtesy of Sage Journal

    Jobst had suffered chronically with venous insufficiency from this childhood. Chronic Venous Insufficiency can be described as a condition where the valves in the veins in your extremities don’t work properly. These valves are meant to keep blood from flowing backward, sending blood from your extremities to your heart to be oxygenated. According to  WEBMD, “If you have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), the valves don’t work like they should and some of the blood may go back down into your legs. That causes blood to pool or collect in the veins.” At 41,  Jobst began to aggressively seek a solution to his chronic venous insufficiency issues. He consulted with many physicians and tried the available treatments, but felt no relief. On one occasion, Jobst discovered while swimming that the surrounding pressure from water provided immense relief from his condition. 

    After this brilliant revelation, he began to study the venous system and work on a solution to re-create the pressure sensation of the water. According to  Promedica Health, Jobst collaborated with physiologist Dr. Otto Gauer to understand the physiologic component of the device they were attempting to create. Together, they concluded that it should be a pressure garment that provided gradual compression from the ankle up to the knee. They decided that the greatest pressure should be applied around the ankle, as they felt the highest venous pressure is at the ankle when a person is standing. And, thus, in the year of 1950, compression technology was born!

    Compression’s Impact Today

    Many, like Jobst, have found the immense benefits of compression are incredibly beneficial to those suffering with vein and circulation issues.  Promedica states “it has been shown that patients with chronic venous disease who wear these garments have reduced swelling, reduced risk of skin breakdown (venous ulcers), and an improved healing when ulcers do exist.”

    However, there are many other uses and immense for compression within the athletic sector, given its many benefits for circulation, swelling reduction, and reduction of lactic acid leading to shorter recovery times. Additionally, with the rise of competitive running and marathons becoming ubiquitous, compression garments began to be used more heavily for sports and recovery.  In 2001, 76ers player Allen Iverson is credited with debuting an arm sleeve that his trainer improvised by cutting up another garment. And, thus, compression arm sleeves were born.

    Since then, not only has demand and awareness of the benefits of compression increased exponentially, but it’s range of applications, products, and technology has advanced greatly. Still, the humble origins of compression remain and the basic principle of using pressure to solve the problem of circulation is still the backbone of the invention. So, a big thanks to the founder and inventory Conrad Jobst, for being an innovator extraordinaire and bringing to all of us. 

    Shop our top compression item pick and find more on our  new Amazon shopping homepage:

    Our Pure Athlete Compression Pick: The Thigh Compression Sleeve

    Shop it HERE