Compression garments play an important role in the life of an elite athlete where it’s now impossible not to see a competitor in his favorite and most trusted form-fitting compression garment. Not only does a compression garment gracefully reveal the athlete’s chiseled body shape, but it also makes him look much lighter with a lot of freedom of movement.
But do you really need compression clothing during a workout even if your workout routine is only light to moderate and only for a shorter period? Isn’t compression clothing for extreme athletes only who have long and grueling workouts? The short answer is YES. And you might be surprised that compression clothing can also be used in your workplace or when you travel especially if you stand or walk on hard surfaces for long periods.
In a medical context, if you have poor circulation or you want to prevent injuries by making gait changes, prevent chafing and rashes, and control skin temperature during a workout, having the right compression clothing is one of your musts. Not only that, there are key research findings that prove the unmissable health benefits of having compression clothing in your workout and post-workout sessions.
Benefits of Compression Clothing
1. Reduced Exercise Induced Muscle Damage (EIMD)
A study from Medical Research Institute in Sydney, Australia, which used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to demonstrate the muscle changes during recovery, showed significant improvement in muscle pH after only 1 hour of wearing a compression garment after controlled muscle injury for which control and treatment lasted for 48 hours.
Plus, a thesis in the University of Sydney, Australia which compared leg volume in 24 Rugby players, showed a significant reduction of muscle swelling among players who were wearing compression garments.
2. Accelerated Recovery Processes
According to a study published in Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2006 on the effect of compression garments on eccentric exercise, there was a significant improvement in enzymes involved in muscle membrane restoration after only 1 hour of wearing compression garments where 11 subjects were tested using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to demonstrate the muscle changes during recovery.
The same study also showed the effectiveness of compression garments in the post-match recovery strategies among Rugby players from 0, 36, and 84 hours.
3. Removes Lactic Acid Faster
According to a thesis from Australian Catholic University that examined elite netball players who used compression garments during simulated netball trials, lactate accumulation during fast pace didn’t occur. Another research also showed that compression garments helped decrease the heart rate and lactic acid build-up in athletes who engaged in high-intensity treadmill workouts.
4. Increased Strength and Power
A study on the effect of compression garments on ballistic strength in elite Rugby players, as indicated by the distance a medicine ball can be repeatedly thrown, showed that the players who were wearing compression garments threw the medicine ball consistently further than those players who were not wearing compression garments.
Plus, an independent study on the effect of compression garments on distance running biomechanics of 6 subjects showed that there was no inhibition of running stride but there was an improvement in propulsion.
5. Improved Endurance
According to a thesis from Australian Catholic University that examined elite netball players who used compression garments during simulated netball trials, there were improvements (in performance) in time spent at a higher pace. Plus, there was no occurrence of lactate accumulation among netball players at a fast pace.
6. Increased Muscle Oxygenation
An independent study on the effect of compression garments in 12 high-performance cyclists showed that there were dramatic improvements in muscle oxygenation during maximal efforts, as well as, during the recovery from intense exercise.
7. Improved Body Temperature Control
A thermographic survey on the effect of compression garments in 2 elite football players showed clear differences of up to 5 degrees between the surface temperatures at the working muscles.
Plus, a detailed study from Waikato Institute of Technology in Hamilton, New Zealand showed improvements in heat rate, core body temperature perception, and heat stress when wearing compression garments.
8. Increased Venous Return
In a medical context, compression garments provide support for people who have poor circulation. The compression can help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the formation of a blood clot that usually occurs on the legs. DVT may include pain, swelling, and redness of the affected area.
9. Reduced In-flight Ankle Oedema
According to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia 2008 on 50 passengers who spent more than 5 hours on flights, there were significant differences in ankle circumference and symptoms of Economy Class Syndrome.
The ankle circumferences of those subjects who were not wearing compression garments were significantly bigger than the ankle circumferences of those subjects who were wearing compression garments. The subjects with no compression garments also experience more pain during those long flights than the subjects who were wearing compression garments.
The same study also indicated that the subjects with compression garments experienced increased concentration, alertness, and energy levels; their legs felt significantly better after the flight, and they had a better night’s sleep after the flight.
10. Stabilizing Joints
According to an independent study on the effect of graduated compression garments on distance running biomechanics of 6 subjects who wore long tights during 30 repeats of running sessions, there was no inhibition of running stride at the knee but there was an improvement in propulsion from the hip.
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of compression clothing, you should have an idea of what each one can do and the support they can give to your body. If you’re a runner, expect good compression clothing to last about the same distance as your best running shoe whether you run on pavement, trail, treadmill, or are improving your form through cross-training.
But should you choose more expensive compression clothing over a less expensive one? YES but only if the brand has invested as much time or money into research because the medical benefits of excellent compression clothing should be backed by independent testing.