Compression wear should not be mistaken for ordinary spandex clothes. Tighter elastic keeps clothing in shape and provides graduated pressure, which improves circulation. Compression wear can be shirts, shorts or tights. It can also be underwear, stockings or socks.
While the material is similar to spandex, the big difference is that they are form-hugging clothes. As a result, muscles stay warm, and which thwarts strain.
In addition, they reduce fatigue and stop sweat from accumulating on the skin, preventing rashes.
Compression garments have gained considerable popularity as athletic wear, mainly because famous athletes are often seen wearing them during major track and field events. They are also seen in gyms. Unlike t-shirts and shorts, they help with reducing muscle soreness while not hampering movement.
Compression garments are also worn by people with demanding physical jobs. A sales person in a retail establishment may have to stand on their feet all day, which causes poor blood circulation in the lower back, legs, and feet. Someone who has a job that requires heavy lifting, say, in construction, moving furniture, or warehouse work, will also find them useful.
In addition, these garments may be worn by people with illnesses that require improved circulation—for example, diabetics or those with gout, varicose veins or arthritis.
Finally, these highly specialized clothes are useful for post-surgery recovery, which may affect circulation, particularly in the legs and feet.
Compression Wear Does Not Improve Performance
Although many athletes believe that the garments enhance performance, no conclusive evidence backs this up. These claims are dismissed in the scientific community as a placebo effect. As a result, these clothes are not banned from any sports, where the garments might give some wearers a competitive edge or skew the statistics of past record breaking events.
Research Links Compression Wear with Improved Recovery
While compression wear may not enhance performance, new research suggests that they do reduce post-workout aches and pains.
Associate professor of physical therapy at Chapman University Daniel Cipriani says it helps recovery “Because it helps to keep down some of the swelling that occurs with all the blood flow.”
The sports expert bases his conclusions on a study he co-authored in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine on cyclists who wore compression shirts. “During the ride,” he reported,” most of them liked the shirt in terms of making their back feel less fatigued and keeping them in a good posture while riding. But the majority felt it was even more useful after the ride as a recovery shirt.”
Why Compression Wear Improves Recovery
Working a muscle group hard causes inflammation. This is a result of more fluid and white blood cells going to the exercised area. Inflammation results in swelling, pressure on the nerves, and pain.
Compression garments reduce the inflammatory response of the body to exercise by constricting the working muscles. Since less fluid builds up, there is decreased swelling; and, without swelling, there is less pressure on the nerves.
These special clothes do not entirely prevent soreness, rather they reduce it. They work by increasing blood flow in the muscles, which, in turn, removes an enzyme responsible for soreness called creatine kinase.
Types of Compression Wear
Generally speaking, shirts, shorts, and tights are worn for athletic purposes, with shorts and tights often used as undergarments. However, compression shorts may also be worn by pregnant women to support abdominal muscles. They may also be worn after pregnancy to support Cesarean wounds.
Meanwhile, compression stockings and socks are worn to help with leg circulation. A compression sock does more than improve circulation in the foot, it can also relieve aches and reduce swelling in the legs. These socks are ideal for people who stand on their feet all day. In addition, there are specialized types of socks. Diabetic socks give the feet more cushion, while anti-bacterial socks, made of moisture-wicking yarns, keep your feet cool throughout the day.
How to Choose the Right Garments
When choosing compression clothes, the most important thing to figure out is the right type of compression. The compression should be just enough to improve venous return and the oxygenation of muscles. It should not be constrictive. Rates of compression are graded from 8 to 40 mmHg.
Here is what to look for when choosing a compression garment:
· If you need mild compression, choose one that is 8-15 mmHg.
· If you need moderate compression, choose one that is 15-20 mmHg.
· If you need firm compression, choose one that is 20-30 mmHg.
· If you need extra firm compression, choose one that is 30-40 mmHg.
There are many benefits to wearing some kind of compression garment. They can be worn for sports, on jobs that require a lot of standing or physical strain, and by those who have an ailment or illness that affects circulation. These garments relieve pain caused from muscle stiffness. Besides reducing soreness, they also reduce the time it takes for a muscle to heal.