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What You Need to Know About Compression Clothing

compression clothingWhen recovering from a strenuous workout, it is important to accelerate blood flow to decrease swelling. Stretching and physical therapy are tried and true techniques.  But did you know there is also specially designed gear – called compression clothing – to aid your recovery?

What is compression clothing?

Compression garments are form-fitting socks, shorts, shirts, tights, and body suits, made with tight elastic, that squeeze and hold muscles in place to enhance athletic performance and muscle recovery. The compressive layers fit snuggly under workout gear or on their own to seep up sweat and moisture, regulate body temperature, and deliver specific levels of pressure to the limb and muscles. Originally created to help those suffering from poor circulation, the clothing has become popular amongst athletes and avid gym-goers looking for a boost during and after their workouts.

Why wear it?

For those hoping to reduce tiredness and soreness after high-powered workouts, compression clothing may be worth a try. The garments claim to increase blood circulation and oxygen delivery to muscles, improving movement, stamina and speed. In theory, this also speeds up recovery time by reducing fatigue and exercise-induced muscle damage. Many enjoy the compression’s massage-like grip on the targeted area post-workout for purportedly putting pressure on tissue and lessening swelling.

Why it may not be right for everyone

If you are only looking to enhance your performance, the substantiated evidence for the clothing’s efficacy is minimal. According to a new study, led by Dr. Abigail Strickford, a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center, there was no statistical difference between athletes who wore the garments during their workouts and those who did not. Dr. Strickford, who measured 16 competitive male runners’ speed, gait, and oxygen intake, among other metrics, reported: “Running economy, which is a measure of efficiency that is closely tied to endurance performance, was exactly the same with and without compression garments.”

However, research does validate compression clothing as an effective post-exercise recovery measure. Studies have shown that the clothing diminishes the swelling that occurs when your heart rate is up post-workout, relieving muscle stiffness and soreness.

While the clothing has never shown to be harmful pre- or post-exercise, please consult a doctor before trying.

Do you use compression clothing during or after your workouts? Share if you have found they have or have not helped your performance and/or recovery on Facebook.