Compression Gear: How to Find the Right Product

Compression gear is no longer something only your grandparents might wear. It's part of the latest innovation in athletic wear. Many of the world's top runners swear that this wearable technology makes a big difference in their performance.

In fact, athletes other than runners are starting to appreciate the benefits of compression gear in protecting their muscles from injury and helping them recover from soreness and damage.

There has been an explosion in the marketplace of different brands and styles of this athletic wear. And because of the technological research that goes into the manufacturing of these products, they're not inexpensive.

If you're considering trying compression gear as an enhancement to your workout regimen, here are five important points to think about before you take the plunge.

1. Choose Compression Gear Suitable for Your Needs

Compression garments were originally developed by the medical profession to help patients heal after surgery. They were also used for arthritis and diabetes. They're commonly prescribed for individuals suffering from issues like edema, thrombosis and varicose veins.

The same science that applies to these medical issues also applies to issues associated with running. By restricting muscle movement, compression ensures that energy is conserved and the body is held in alignment.

Compression also increases blood flow so that the muscles receive a constant supply of oxygen. This constant supply of oxygen is integral to both sustaining performance and enhancing recovery. It also provides a boost for sore or inflamed muscles and has been shown to speed recovery from the kinds of injuries sustained by runners and other athletes.

With so many choices out there, if you're considering compression wear because you're recovering from an injury, first you should consult with your doctor or physical therapist. You should also think about the nature of your ailment. For example,  if you are recovering from shin splints or plantar fasciitis, compression socks might be the appropriate garment for you.

2. Are You Seeking to Improve Your Running Performance?

There's some difference of opinion on whether compression actually makes you run faster.

Studies have found that wearing compression gear after running a marathon resulted in improved performance weeks later.

On the other hand, some experts claim the benefits are purely psychological and that wearing compression tights or other gear creates a placebo effect.

Of course, in competitive sports, the psychological is as important as the physical. Do not discount the power of the placebo effect.

It's believed wearing compression gear can do the following:

  • Increase blood flow
  • Remove lactic acid from the muscles
  • Speed up recovery from muscle injuries
  • Increase oxygenation
  • Help with body temperature control
  • Control swelling

Some athletes find these do result in improved performance, but so far there's no scientific proof.

It's important to know if you're using this attire for recovery or for performance enhancement. There are products created specifically for either goal.

Tights are preferable if you're plagued with sore quadriceps, calf, or gluteal muscles, or if you have issues with your IT band.

Examine carefully your options for compression tights, plants, or limb sleeves in light of what you're using them for.

3. You Can Use Compression in Sports Other Than Running

Although compression wear has received a lot of attention in the world of marathon running, the benefits can apply to many other sports.

Products are available for sports ranging from hockey to basketball.

Professional basketball players are often seen wearing brightly colored compression arm sleeves. Like the placebo effect, arm sleeves may assist with "proprioception." In other words, they boost your awareness of where your limbs are in space.

Men's Fitness reported that compression wear can benefit anyone engaged in explosive exercise, from sprinting and bicycling to body builders.

4. Compression Garments Help If You Travel Frequently on Planes

Compression gear can help anyone, including professional and amateur athletes, who travel by plane to compete in sporting events.

Arm and leg sleeves worn in flight after a race or event will help to prevent blood clots caused by blood pooling in the extremities. They will boost blood flow to the heart, which is an important benefit to active people of all ages.

Even nonathletes might find that wearing compression socks on long flights reduces swelling and other circulatory issues that can happen when riding an airplane for a long time.

5. There are Many Degrees of Tightness

Often manufacturers offer several levels of tightness for compression gear, including medical-grade categories for people who are using products to recover from injuries.

For compression garments intended for medical purposes, there are four levels of tightness depending upon the condition for which they're being used.

Sports-focused compression wear also comes in degrees. Some designs offer graduated compression, which is tighter at the extremities and decreases the closer it gets to the heart. This works for speedier oxygenation and removal of metabolic waste like lactic acid.

Another alternative is clothing with targeted compression zones, which focuses on stabilizing key muscles. This style might work better during an activity to help your stamina and endurance.

You're likely to need to take measurements of parts of your body when you order compression gear online. Your size is dependent on these measurements in addition to your height and weight; your usual size in sportswear may not apply here with this specially engineered clothing.

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Compression Wear: Is It Right for You?

If you're seeking an effective way to cut down on your post-race soreness, prevent sports related injuries, and gain a competitive advantage in running and other sports, compression wear might be right for you. Check out some of the options available on our website to find the perfect garment to suit your needs.