RECOVERY techniques in sport are forever becoming more advanced, with high-tech compression trousers the latest must-have gadget.
Thiago Silva recently appeared in the outfits which have reached football, boxing, cricket and rugby.
A key moment in the technology's history came when striker prospect Ryan Brunt was a Stoke youngster, and he ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments at the age of 16.
Physios gave him the usual advice of rest, ice, compression and elevation — known commonly as RICE as he began his 12-month lay-off.
Stoke’s training centre also provided a machine that applied pressure to his legs, but he wanted to do more to speed up the healing process.
In his race to return to match fitness, Brunt spent one evening surfing the web and came across NormaTec, who produced boots that aid rapid recovery.
Brunt, now 27, asked the Massachusetts-based company if they would ship one across the Atlantic to him and they happily obliged.
“That was the first time I picked up the NormaTec,” Brunt told SunSport in 2018.
"I’ve been using them for eight years now, ever since I did my knee."
The device is designed to help prime athletes recover faster between workouts by reducing muscle soreness and improves circulation, Brunt explained.
"The NormaTec is basically an air compression device.
“Put simply, it's a 24/7 on-call massage therapist service.
“It squeezes from the ankle up to the quad, flushing the lactic acid and toxins out of your system and reprocessing it.
“The new and oxygenated blood helps recovery time, injury and fatigue.”
Having reaped the benefits of these Michelin Man-style trousers, Brunt suspected some of his colleagues would be interested in trying them too.
At first, he began sub-letting them and then saw an opportunity to expand his career options.
The Chippenham striker said he juggles being a footballer with working as a full-time head of NormaTec UK.
Business is booming.
Four years ago, he got a call from a representative of his most high-profile client, Anthony Joshua.
Together, with the rest of the NormaTec team, Brunt made the 250-mile trip from their headquarters in Exeter to Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport.
The Science Behind NormaTec
Created by a physician bioengineer (MD, PhD) to enhance blood flow and speed recovery, NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern employs three key techniques to maximize your recovery.
PULSING: Instead of using static compression (squeezing) to transport fluid out of the limbs, Sequential Pulse Technology uses dynamic compression (pulsing). Our patented pulsing action more effectively mimics the muscle pump of the legs and arms, greatly enhancing the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs after an intense workout.
GRADIENTS: Veins and lymphatic vessels have one-way valves that prevent fluid backflow. Similarly, NormaTec Pulse Technology uses hold pressures to keep fluids from being forced in the wrong direction. Because of this enhancement, instead of tapering pressure off, the PULSE and PULSE PRO can deliver maximum pressure in every zone.
DISTAL RELEASE: Because extended static pressure can be detrimental to the body’s normal circulatory flow, Sequential Pulse Technology releases the hold pressures once they are no longer needed to prevent backflow. By releasing the hold pressure in each zone as soon as possible, each portion of the limb gains maximal rest time without a significant pause between compression cycles.
Joshua was getting ready to fight Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA and IBO titles at the time.
“Anthony Joshua is probably the biggest star we’ve dealt with,” Brunt said.
“We went up to Sheffield, explained the boots to him, showed him how to use them and when to use them and he was great.
“He was exactly how he comes across on the TV.”
After picking up £15million from his victory against Klitschko, Joshua can certainly afford them.
NormaTec devices range from £1,600 to £4,500.
“They’re not cheap, but they may be to some of the athletes that buy them,” Brunt said.
For Joshua, a sportsman relying on his arms more than his legs, NormaTec provides the necessary attachments.
At the age of 31, the Briton is looking for small gains ahead of his pursuit of heavyweight domination.
Former Chelsea captain John Terry is another firm believer in the healing qualities of the NormaTec.
The device was a necessity as he entered the autumn of his career at Aston Villa.
He has often videos online wearing the NormaTec boots - which is the very place he first made contact with Brunt.
“It was over Instagram that he messaged us,” he said.
“John reached out to us and one of the Aston Villa players had given him a pair to try.
“He got in touch, said he really liked them and wanted to get a pair.”
And Terry and Brunt aren't the only footballers who wear NormaTec trousers.
Thiago Silva recently appeared in them while resting for Chelsea during their trip to Krasnodar.
Paul Pogba, the most expensive player in the Premier League, wears them. As does Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
Gareth Bale and Saido Berahino have also appeared on their social media using them.
“They can spend 45 minutes to an hour wearing them in the comfort of their own home, while watching Super Sunday or playing on their PlayStation,” Brunt said.
As NormaTec continues to grow in the world of sport, they're also influencing rugby stars.
Exeter Chiefs' England and Lions winger Jack Nowell is another customer.
“They’re very good for post training sessions,” Nowell told SunSport. “I genuinely use them daily to get a bit of heaviness out of my legs.
“Personally, I love using them on the morning of a game, to get that pre-match massage and my legs fresh for the tough 80 minutes ahead.”
Rarely do injuries provide positives for professional athletes.
But for Brunt, NormaTec and British sport’s elite, there was a silver lining to that dark day for him back in 2010.