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A Conversation with Riixo’s Cameron Johnston

We recently featured Riixo Calf Cuffs in a review article (here) and we had the opportunity to talk with Cameron Johnston, founder of Riixo, 3-in-1 ice heat compression wear. We find out more about the realities of bringing a product to market and a look to the future. 

You’ve recently launched the Riixo Calf Cuff. How has it been received?

I’ve been blown away. You feel nervous when you put products you’ve been working on for 3 years out there, but the feedback has been great. Almost everyone has felt some benefits but there are two groups who seem to have benefited most: those pushing for performance gains (where fresh legs are handy!) and then those managing injuries or niggles that are keeping them from getting out and training. Both are scenarios I really relate to and am motivated to help with.

Tell us about your sporting background? How have you been affected by injury through your career?

I loved rugby growing up, it was my whole life and all I wanted to do from a very young age. I was a pretty quick 100m runner at school, but I found another gear when running round big lumps on a rugby pitch. I was lucky enough to sign with Newcastle Falcons and to play for Scotland as well as the GB 7s team. My life and career changed in a split second when a spear tackle broke my back and forced me to retire at 22. I felt like I hadn’t really got going and it many ways the very difficult period of physical healing was nothing compared to processing that my career was over, and my future had changed. 

Wow, that sounds like a really tough period. You obviously came through it, what happened next? 

I don’t mind saying that it was tough, and I was lost for a while. I wanted to stay around the buzz and the standards of elite sport so I retrained as a physio and I worked with some amazing professional teams and athletes, but it wasn’t the same. I felt there was a bigger personal challenge for me out there, so I joined the military, as a physio, and that set me on a pathway to founding Riixo.

When did you come up with the idea for the cuffs?

I was deployed with a UN peace keeping force to central Africa when the idea for the cuffs was born. In the field hospital I saw a lot of injured and aching joints and muscles – very similar to those I saw in sports settings. But in a tent, in the desert, in 50 degree heat it was difficult to provide some of the basics of injury recovery and management such as ice and compression. 

The equipment available was either outdated, substandard or we did not have the infrastructure (the availability of power and ice) to support it. Frustrated, I started to sketch  my own designs – there and then. 

How long did you take to make those drawings a reality? 

It’s been 3 years – which has gone in a flash – but I wasn’t prepared to compromise with the design decisions and it so happens that my collection of experiences really helped. I was a professional sportsman: so familiar with the high demands on kit and the high training loads on committed athletes. A physiotherapist: demanding a solution that could be used multiple times, was intuitive and easy to use. A military professional: where robust, hard wearing and high performing kit is demanded. And a busy dad: in search of convenience (because these days, I don’t have the luxury of being sat still after training. I’ll be running around with our 2-year-old, making lunch, sat at the desk working or in (Zoom!) meetings). 

So I can wear them on the go?

Yes. The benefits of Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE) are pretty widely accepted but there is mounting current evidence about the benefits of ‘active recovery’ and remaining mobile after big training loads. 

There is no direct power supply needed – no cords to trip you up. The whole cuff goes into the freezer (for ice) or the microwave you pull them out, slip them on and off you go.

It’s also about timing. The sooner you can start to recover the better. The cuffs come with a case that extends their use by keeping them at the right hot or cold temperature for up to 4 hours. You can have them at the side of the track in your kit bag, or in the car, and stick them on to ice or heat muscles as soon as you’ve finished your session or event.

The cuffs are versatile and we are finding people are use the cuffs in different ways within their recovery protocols – ice, heat, contrast, compression. Prehab, rehab. Straight after, that night, the next day. 

Tell us some more details as to your current products:

The lightweight seamless Cuffs are designed with optimum Grade 2 gradient compression, improving blood flow, reducing inflammation and easing muscle tightness. The classic black and blue cuffs are available in six sizes. Prices start at £76.98 for a single cuff to £128.99 for a pair. Every purchase includes a thermacase, wash bag and application sleeve.

The Ice Ball completes the launch range, priced at £19.98. Combining the benefits of cryotherapy and traditional targeted massage, the ball has a liquid core which remains cold and can be frozen to hold its chill for up to six hours. On the go or at your desk, target sore muscles or trigger points with this multi-use massage aid.

What feedback has been most pleasing? 

The convenience factor has been huge. Busy athletes are busy people – with family and working lives to juggle too. We’ve had lots of comments about the build quality, their toughness and how good they feel to wear. The versatility of uses that I mentioned too. Some people have been surprised by the amount of benefit they’ve felt – which is great – and the cuff has quickly become part of their recovery practices.

But the best feedback is when people say they are out doing the sport they love more than they used to be able to – rather than once or twice a week they can get out three or four times per week. 

So, what is next?

Next is the Knee, Ankle, Quad/Hamstring cuffs as well as a cuff for the Elbow & Forearm. These are almost ready to go with our manufacturing partners in Germany where the cuffs are made in a high calibre facility. I am also working on early stage designs for the back and the shoulder, as well as two for amputees which is incredibly exciting.

I am really proud of what we’re achieving. These days I feel more like a coach than a player, Riixo is filled with great people, great technologists, and great athletes. There is so much we can achieve and so many areas where we can help impact people’s recovery.  

The aspiration for Riixo is to grow our impact on people’s recovery. We’d like to shine a spotlight on the importance of recovery, to share stories, protocols and concepts. We’d like to find a place to challenge people to think about their own recovery because if you’re not recovered, your chance of injury multiplies. If injury keeps you from the sport you love it sets you back physically, but it also impacts your general wellbeing. So it’s not just about building great products it’s about improving a person’s quality of life. 

From triathletes to endurance athletes looking for that competitive edge, runners to fitness enthusiasts, Riixo will keep you injury free, moving with ease and recovering faster.

Find out more at the Riixo website: www.riixo.com

~ends~

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