lobloo bionic performance protection— over 3.7 billion years in the making

In this article, we’ll look at exactly what differentiates lobloo performance protection from other designs and how you yourself are living proof of why this concept is unlike anything else you’ll find on the market. But it all starts with the story of how lobloo came to be.

When Olympian wrestler, European MMA champion and lobloo founder Usama Aziz wrapped his career as an athlete, he had some 3,000 fights behind him. He had been through 400 weight cuts—and eight surgical operations—over his 34 years in elite sports.

That kind of experience gives you a certain appreciation for just what the human body is capable of.

So, when Usama looked at the next chapter of his life, it was with the view to give back to the sporting community that had given him so much. And he knew what he wanted to give. Throughout his athletic career, Usama had never been quite happy with any of the athletic cups he had worn. They were bulky, impeding movements, and would often distract him at critical moments. Sometimes, they would even end up entirely misaligned, risking serious injury. Surely there had to be a better way, and Usama was on to what it would be.

The answer lay in nature’s own ingenious design.

The world’s first bionic athletic cups

Natural evolution has had more than 3.7 billion years to develop what is arguably the most efficient system for movement of the human body. Sure, mankind has only been around for a fraction of that time, but the principles of muscles, tendons and bones have been at play in numerous species before us, gradually being honed to perfection.

If only an athletic cup could be made to replicate those principles, we’d be looking at an entirely new kind of equipment. One that wouldn’t just provide protection, but would actually enhance the performance of the athlete by minimising distractions and allowing a full range of body movements at all times.

Usama was set to develop the world’s first bionic athletic cups.

You’ve seen the word. Bionics. But what does it really mean? Bionics relate to mechanical systems that function like living organisms. In lobloo’s case, this would in effect be about designing athletic cups that work just like any skeletal bone.

Strangely, no other manufacturer of athletic cups had attempted this before. Traditional cups generally sit in a pair of jock shorts or are simply tied to the athlete’s body using static strings. This turns them into something that is distinctly different from the body, like a crutch or a club. Something that cannot be expected to integrate as part of your body.

lobloo’s bionic athletic cups, by contrast, were created to emulate how bones always are held in just the right place by muscles and tendons.

The principles are relatively straightforward. Muscles can only pull, never push, so wherever bones are being moved, i.e. at joints, you’ll always find muscles that work in different directions. One muscle pulls the joint in one direction (in hinge joints—several, if we’re talking about ball joints), another muscle will be ready to pull the joint back the other way. These are called prime movers, and the muscle currently being activated is referred to as the agonist whilst the muscle working in the other direction is referred to as antagonist. So, if you flex your biceps, the bicep muscle is the agonist whilst the triceps is the antagonist.

Look at the kneecap, the patella, for instance. The patella is enveloped in quadriceps tendon, which straightens the knee. And on the underside of the leg, the hamstrings pull the knee joint the other way. Again, simple principles. But the exact position of the muscles’ origins and insertion points are very important to make all this work smoothly. It’s a matter of distances and angles, and the kind of leverage provided by the patella’s own convex structure. (Those who have had problems with their knees might be aware of something called the Q angle, which is the angle at which the quadriceps muscle runs to the patella—any deviation here, and you’re likely to end up with an injury.)

So, in starting his research and development, Usama knew what the general principles had to be. The athletic cup would be held in position and made to move with the body using elastic bands and cords that work just like muscles and tendons. But, just like with the patella, the shape of the athletic cup and the exact points at which these artificial muscles and tendons should originate and insert would have to be carefully calculated.

A kneecap for the groin

It was only after trialling numerous different prototypes that Usama eventually arrived at bionic designs that would in effect turn the athletic cup into a kind of patella for the groin. The shape of the cup was just right for its intended use, and the elastic bands and cords connected in just the right places to consistently keep the cup in position no matter how the athlete moved.

Usama finished the design by adding a soft lining that would function just like joint cartilage, making for frictionless movement and dampening impacts. Now he had the blueprint for a series of bionic cups for every sport, gender and age.

This is how lobloo’s patented bionic performance concept came to be. Since then, Usama has kept working with his test panels of elite athletes, gradually developing performance protection to suit a wide range of different sports. This now includes padded underwear for yet greater comfort, and a range of mouthguards that emulate nature’s design of hard tooth enamel and supporting gums.

Of course, just like natural evolution continues to develop yet more efficient designs over time, so do lobloo look at refining our bionic athletic cups and mouthguards. Because just like nature is about survival of the fittest, lobloo is all about winning.

Paul Walden
lobloo Research & Development

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