Fitness fads come and go. But compression clothing is one trend that has stuck around. And for good reason. For the athlete and the nonathlete alike, there are a ton of benefits to be reaped by wearing compression clothing.
Whether they compete on basketball courts or football fields or Olympic tracks, athletes everywhere swear by their compression gear. But what is it about these garments that make them so highly prized?
At their most basic, compression clothing improves blood flow. That is the main benefit they bring to the table. And though it might not seem that important, even marginally improved blood flow can work wonders.
Why does improved blood flow matter?
There are a few reasons that athletes should want to increase their blood flow. Improved blood flow affects both active performance and how fast an athlete recovers. And, as any athlete knows, this one-two punch is the key to reaching – and then surpassing – your limits.
Increased blood flow brings more oxygen to your muscles. That oxygen is then converted into energy. And compression gear is a low-impact way to ensure this happens. Properly fitted compression gear brings in the oxygen without causing pain or limiting mobility. But this is just what compression gear does for blood flowing into the muscles.
Compression clothing also increases the rate at which blood flows out of the compressed areas. This makes sense given that compressed area is smaller than it would be otherwise–this means that the blood can move more quickly through it. And as it flows out, the blood carries away toxins and lactic acid build up. This reduces the soreness athletes suffer after a workout. It also means that athletes will be back on their feet faster than they would be otherwise.
Does compression clothing have other benefits?
Compression clothing was designed to improve blood flow, but it does offer other benefits. Many athletes use compression gear to avoid excess muscle movement. They insist that this reduces their risk of injury. And, in some areas, it might.
Other athletes use compression clothing in areas where they are already injured. This is especially true if the injury is in the arms or legs. Compression gear takes some of the pressure off overworked or strained muscles. The tight fit also keeps muscles close to the bone so ligaments also get a little bit of rest from the usual wear and tear.
Does the type of compression clothing matter?
The type of compression clothing you choose should suit either your goals or the area you’re focused on. If you want to reduce strain in your calf, you’ll obviously want compression leg sleeve or compression socks for running. But if you’re more concerned with improving blood flow to your biceps on arm day, then upper body compression sleeves are a better bet.
Are there other types of compression clothing besides sleeves?
There certainly are! Designers have made compression clothing for nearly every part of the body. And runners have shown increasing interest in compression socks over the last few years. Our line of Accelerate Running Socks, for example, offers compression at the arches. This helps support not just your arch but your Achilles heel as well.
Compression shirts are especially popular among HIIT enthusiasts. They increase blood flow to the major muscles in your back and chest while staying out of the way when you move. This also makes them ideal for dancers and weight lifters since the garment won’t pose a safety hazard.
Are there any risks to compression clothing?
Everything carries a little risk, though the risks are small with compression clothing. Anyone with high blood pressure or other similar issues should consult a doctor before using compression clothing. And, of course, pregnant women should not wear compression shirts once they begin to show.
And it goes without saying that compression gear is not a quick-fix for injuries. Sports injuries can cause lifelong problems if they are not properly treated. So be sure and see your doctor before training with a sports injury.