Can Compression Socks, Sleeves, and Capes Help You Train Better?

Basketball players, runners, weightlifters and general gym goers are always looking for added benefits and they think compression equipment is the way to go. By squeezing into these stretchy clothes, you supposedly increase blood flow, which in theory means more oxygen for working muscles and a better workout.

Compression equipment comes in all types: knee-length socks, elbow-length sleeves, long pants, knee pads, and tops. These tight-fitting garments are usually made from a mixture of spandex and nylon to fit your arms, legs or torso as much as possible without restricting movement. Compression leggings and socks are popular with, for example, triathletes and long distance runners, and their Asics advertisements are upbeat: Compression gear helps you run farther and recover faster, “because you flush out lactic acid faster , reducing muscle soreness. “Of course, these are pretty trendy pants, but they are a little hyperbolic.

Dos and Don’ts of Compression Equipment

Compression equipment increases circulation , it’s true. For example, it might raise your core temperature, but whether it is enough to help you break records or perform better than you would without it is less clear. According to an analysis of the current literature published this year in the journal Sports Medicine , compression equipment has trivial benefits in terms of running performance-related variables like running economics (how efficiently you run), stride length, number of steps, etc. … The authors point out that the benefits may be more psychological than anything else: you feel less tired than you actually are, and you can work a little longer because you have a better understanding of your body’s relationship in space. This will help you move more efficiently and make your workouts less tiring.

On the other hand, weightlifters use knee pads ( other than knee sleeves ), which are elastic clothing that you wrap tightly around your knees to protect them during heavy squats . A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that knee pads do help the wearer lift about 10% more weight, but do so by changing the way they squat. In other words, they are useful for powerlifting competitions and more.

It seems to depend on the compression mechanism and the activity you are doing. In sports with explosive movements, such as intense sprints and vertical jumping, the use of compression equipment produces marginal improvements, as shown by this review of research in the International Journal of Sports Physiological Efficiency . But the study also does not rule out the undeniably strong influence of the placebo effect . I remember wearing compression leggings for my half marathon because I believed they would help me finish strong – and lo and behold, the pants did run all 13.1 miles! (Seriously, I ended up doing my best ever.)

When Compression Really Helps

Compression equipment has actually been used for many years to treat conditions such as blood clotting in the lower leg, swelling associated with diabetes, and other circulatory problems. It is a viable and beneficial option in place of blood thinners and other more invasive forms of treatment. They also help warm injured joints and provide some support.

Most compression gear manufacturers, such as the popular 2XU, emphasize the benefits of recovery. They “reduce muscle soreness,” read the product pages. And well, there is some truth in this.

According to a study review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine , wearing compression equipment after intense exercise or competition can help speed recovery and at least reduce your perception of overly sore muscles. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found better recovery in rugby players who wore leggings for 24 hours immediately after training, which means if you’re focused on recovery, you should try wearing compression equipment for extended periods. periods (like at least a couple of hours) after training. We’re not entirely sure why this gear helps with recovery. One simplified version of the theory is that their compressive nature reduces the space available for inflammation and edema.

Meanwhile, some people, myself included, just wear compression tights because they are more comfortable and not in the way than loose shorts or workouts. My friends and I sometimes wear compression leggings because they create a sense of comfort and give us psychological support on those grueling days when the legs. Plus, let’s be vain for a second: they make certain aspects of the body look really good.

When you wear a compression mechanism, keep in mind that it has to feel tight: “I can’t believe I can actually fit into this.” You will feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable at first, but as you get used to them, they will feel better and better. Try compression socks (like this one from 2XU ) to get started. Some people may never get used to this feeling and hate them, and that’s okay too.

The condensed version of it all is that tight-fitting clothing can help you recover from hard workouts a little faster if you wear them for a long period of time after heavy exercise. I find they are simply more functional and more comfortable to wear. If you’re skeptical, you don’t need them , so save some money. There is no evidence that they are harmful, however, so if you’re wondering, just shell out the money and take the time trying to get your hands on it.


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