You arrive at your sporting event. You are a little nervous. People are slowly beginning to warm up ready for the race. These things are guaranteed. What you will also notice is the hoards of people wearing compression shorts and compression tights – depending on what level of freezing the British weather is. Are compression clothes a passing fad or the next advancement in sports clothing?
Compression Clothes: What is all the fuss about?
Compression clothes are tightly fitting layers. You can get anything from compression shorts to compression sleeves. They are designed to improve your body’s circulation and specially the return of blood from to your heart. Through improving circulation lactic acid is removed from the muscles more quickly thus reducing the time it takes your muscles to recover. Though the evidence is mainly anecdotal, many people believe compression wear has significantly reduced their instances of soft tissue injury.
One of the popular benefits of compression gear among endurance athletes is the vibration dampening effects. As your legs strike the ground vibrations are sent through your legs and upper body that increase muscle fatigue. Through the added support provided by compression gear these vibrations are reduced and the onset of fatigue is delayed.
So what are the benefits of compression wear?
There is anecdotal and some scientific evidence in support of compression sportswear.
Here are some:
- Keeps your muscles warm during exercise and recovery
- Improves oxygenation of the muscles
- Decreases recovery time needed between workouts
- Quickly takes sweat away from the body using a wicking process
The other side of compression sportswear
Many sportsmen and women swear by the improvements they have seen in their performance from compression clothing. However the scientific research has been less conclusive. One study suggested athletes would benefit substantially more from regular post-workout ice baths. Rather you, then me though! We like compression clothes because they are an easy addition to your recovery routine. Slip into them after your event or training session and they can even be worn underneath work clothing.
Who is wearing compression clothing?
These garments took of around 2004 with many athletes sporting them. The infamous runner Paula Radcliffe wore them for recovery from her 150 mile week training programme. In the 2008 Olympics Kara Goucher wore then to compete in various distance events. Even popular premiership footballers can be seen with them under their team kits.
Is it worth the cost?
There are always equipment changes you can make to improve your performance. However many of them are unaffordable for the average sports person. Swimming is a prime example where swim suits specially tailored to your body can save significant time over various distance. The only problem is they cost thousands.
Since compression wear was first introduced to the market it has significantly dropped in price. This has opened its fan base and is the reason you will see so many weekend warriors and causal athletes sporting them. So is compression wear worth it? Most people say yes. The best way for you to find out is to give it a go.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Do8y