Compression Apparel – Fad, fiction or FACT?

Being an Australian it’s hard to be left out of the phenomenon that is ‘compression gear’. We are by far the biggest supporters of this industry worldwide.

I’m known for advertising the main reason I run in compression is because the absolute freedom of movement has you feeling you like are running in the nude 😉 But, there actually is a science behind this ‘Therapeutic Sports Apparel’ and I wanted to share this with you and explain how it may be of benefit to your training.

The leaders in the industry use a gradual or gradient compression which basically means that the compression (measured in mm/mercury) varies from site to site. The rule is, the highest level of compression is used furthest away from the heart (eg the ankles/calves) and it drops gradually more proximal to the heart (eg waist).

This compression gradient increases blood circulation which also aids in increasing venous return. Because there is an increased amount of blood going through the lungs this also results in an increased count of highly oxygenated blood. Having an increased level of oxygenated blood getting to working muscles is what really impacts on our power and endurance.

It is claimed, through rigorous independent testing that some compression garments will increase power by 25% and endurance by 30%. Whilst these results are obviously significant, it’s probably best we don’t hang too many expectations about smashing PB’s based on such results.

The other well -known benefit of compression apparel is to improve recovery by decreasing lactic acid build up. Both wearing compression during and post activity is documented to aid in recovery. Many people choose to get this result by sleeping in their compression tights post endurance training.

The key with such performance apparel is to get the fit right. My experience with having sold compression for many years is that people are always scared of committing to the right size. They need to be firm to do the job you are paying a premium price for, for most of us this is not a normal feeling at first! Most brands use the BMI scale to advise on the fit, that being they take in to account both your height and weight. For tights, if you are on the border of two sizes then always choose the smaller size. For tops, if you are on the border then choose the bigger size.

Aside from an improvement in power, endurance and a speedy recovery you can expect your compression gear to aid in thermoregulation, act as an antibacterial layer and wick moisture away from your skin to reduce chaffing.

I’ve never heard someone say they regret the investment in a good pair of compression tights, so if you are at all intrigued by the idea behind it all – GIVE IT A GO!

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