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Should you wear compression clothing?

Have you thought about getting some compression clothing but are unsure as to what it will do for you? Compression stockings were originally used for medical purposes to promote venous blood flow (carrying blood to your heart) and thrombosis (blood clot) prevention post surgery . Today compression clothing is becoming a more commonly used athletic performance and recovery aid. So what benefits can you expect by wearing compression clothing?

Many studies have been undertaken across the globe, some saying compression gear will make you run faster, others are fence sitters, saying it only works in certain circumstances. What has been a consistent message is ‘performance and recovery is positively affected when wearing compression clothing in short bouts of intense exercise’ such as High Intensity Interval Training. Suggested benefits of compression gear include improved power, strength, endurance, proprioception and injury management. 

Performance benefits and injury reduction

For athletes who are thinking that if you slap on some compression tights, and your overall performance will improve, think again, it’s not quite that simple. Four major areas reported an improvement in athletic ability;

  • increased blood lactate removal which reduces fatigue when exercising
  • decrease in muscle oscillation upon ground contact
  • enhanced proprioception
  • improved jump power and height - attributed to a better warm up from having warmer skin and reduced muscle oscillation. 

“Combined, these results show that compression garments may provide both a performance enhancement and an injury reduction role during exercises provoking high blood lactate concentrations or explosive-based movements.”1

Recovery benefits

Studies also measured the effects of compression clothing on individuals after both high intensity training and weight lifting sessions. In many cases the compression clothing was worn for the recovery hours following training, not for just the training itself. Compression clothing noticeably decreased the symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), fatigue and swelling. The heightened blood lactate removal experienced during exercise also reduced overall recovery time.

The verdict?

So there you have it, the use of compression clothing won’t change your athletic ability as soon as you slip into it, but compression clothing offers other benefits which will, in turn, help you to train to your full potential. You can read more at ausport.gov.au1