What compression clothes can and can’t do for you
By Ea Francisco
If you’re someone new to the athletic scene, you’d probably be tempted, at least once, to try out compression garments. Almost every athlete you encounter is going to talk about how it boosts performance. You’d think that getting into the sports aesthetic is going to make you faster, but that’s not exactly the case. Just to get it out of the way, compression clothes aren’t going to make you faster. You don’t become Usain Bolt after training in them for a week. Here’s what they can do though for you.
The one thing that distinguishes compression clothes from, say, leggings or other clothes is the fit. Because compression garments are snug, it holds your muscles in place and lessens muscle oscillations, which is the vibrations caused by repetitive impact. Science for Sports says this helps conserve energy, speed up recovery, and reduce tissue damage. Some people even link this to reduced fatigue, but studies have yet to back this.
Another reason why these have become popular is the supposed improved post-workout recovery. Fortunately, there is more evidence to support this. A study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that wearing compression clothes helps the body oxygenate muscle tissue, which in turn, speeds up recovery. It had no effect however on oxygen consumption.
The Guardian says that compression gear has a history of being used as medical treatment for inflammatory diseases like lymphedema and deep veins. Strenuous activities often cause tissue damage, and you’ll feel the pain and soreness when you stop moving. The compression helps circulate muscle metabolites and nutrients needed for muscle repair. It also reduces the area of swelling. Other studies show that wearing compression clothes slightly reduces your knee and hip’s range of movement. This, alongside reduced muscle oscillation, is said to be the cause of reduced delayed onset muscle soreness.
Many have associated the positive effects of compression clothes to placebo. Even if it was, there’s no study that shows that they can be harmful, so continued use won’t have any effect on you.