Eagle County resident develops high-tech long johns | VailDaily.com

Eagle County resident develops high-tech long johns

NWS Opedix Tights SM 1-30-08

VAIL, Colorado ” At a glance, Kim Gustafson’s tights look like any pair of long johns.

But look carefully and you might notice the strategically placed fabric around the kneecap and along the sides of the knee.

And the uniqueness of these tights ” the way in which they can reduce the pounding on the knees and potentially fend off degenerative arthritis ” is really proven in the laboratory, Gustafson will tell you.

And he will gladly show you this lab. If he can find it.

He is on the first floor of the Vail hospital, then the second floor, then the basement, then the second floor. Back in the basement, he surprises a bespectacled man in a hidden cubicle, who advises him to take a right at the water fountain.

For Gustafson is no doctor, and he does not work at the hospital. But the retired international businessman, who lives in Edwards, has started his own company, Opedix Labs, and he has consulted medical researchers and fabric experts ” not to mention athletes ” to create the tights.

“They are for people who want to prevent wear and tear on their knees,” he says.

The tights are meant to support the knee during activities like running and skiing. Indeed, tests at the Steadman-Hawkins Research Foundation found that the running tights reduced “load” on the knees by 7 to 8 percent.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is,” Gustafson says.

Finally, he finds the lab, where he points out the high-speed cameras, the motion sensors and the powerful computers that were used to test the tights. Gustafson hangs his hat on the scientific-based findings that suggest the efficacy of the tights. “Real science, real evidence, real results” is the slogan for the tights.

The tights are gaining fans among local athletes, both skiers and runners.

“It’s kind of a subtle effect you don’t necessarily notice,” said Josiah Middaugh, a local competitive triathlete and snowshoer who has tried the tights. “It’s more of a cumulative effect.”

The tights can reduce more than 4 tons of pounding on a knee for an average-sized woman per mile run, Gustafson said.

Middaugh has recommended the tights to Jeanne Hennessy, whom he is training for the Olympic marathon.

“Someone like Jeanne putting in 100 miles of running a week, that could be a significant load off the knees,” Middaugh said.

Skiers seem to like the tights, too.

“I thought they were great,” said Amy Liebowitz, a part-time ski instructor at Vail Mountain. “They were comfortable to wear, and they felt like they were a big support to my knees.”

Opedix just started selling the tights on its Web site earlier this month. Two models are available ” one for skiing and snowboarding and one for running. They hope to have them in stores by next year.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

Support Local Journalism