By Sabrina Gonzalez
Are compression garments worth the hype?
Compression garments are the latest fad in athletic wear. Various compression gear, such as shorts, shirts, tights, socks, and even body suits, are finding their way into the closet of many athletes. The use of compression garments began in the medical setting. Over the last 50 years, compression stockings have been effectively used in the management of venous disorders, specifically chronic venous insufficiency, helping improve blood flow into the limbs.
However, the benefits of compression garments on improving an individual’s athletic performance remain unclear. Researches conducted have revealed mixed results – while some studies show that using compressive garments increases one’s endurance and improves jump height and power, other studies, such as one presented at the American College of Sports Medicine, state that these garments do not have any effect on running mechanics.
Although its influence on performance remains questionable, more evidence is available for the benefits of using compression garments in another aspect of training – recovery. Several studies have revealed that compression garments decrease the levels of lactate in the blood, as well as the concentration of markers for muscle injury. Many other researches report decreases in pain scores and reduction in inflammation after extensive activity, when worn during and after exercise. Thus, fatigue is minimized, recovery is improved, and training and exercise can be resumed at an earlier time.
Although the scientific basis for using compressive garments is still not completely solid, there are no known dangers to using compressive garments. It is safe, and may in fact provide support to the joints and prevent injury.
An important thing to remember about these compression garments is that the garments used in the researches are special medical wear that deliver a specific pressure to the body, not those that can be bought at your nearby sports store. Thus, it is crucial to use medical grade compression garments, in order to achieve its benefits, if any.
Sabrina Gonzales Doctor by profession, surgeon by choice, runner by need, traveler by heart.