Compression Garments… Just a fad?
Today compression garments are widely used and sought after in the fitness world with the big brands marketing compression tops, tights, shorts, sleeves and socks including 2XU, SKINS, Under Armour, Running Bare, Nike etc. They have become the increasingly popular choice for our elite athletes, Olympians, World champions, amateur athletes and average Joe Blow, upping in popularity and public hype.
All of these brands market the compression garments with associated words including ‘tech fit’, dynamic, performance, climate control, durability, powerful, flat lock stitching, superior, gradient compression and the list goes on. When reading and hearing these associated words you begin to feel more pumped up, more mentally sound and ready for anything…
But do these garments work? Do they help with performance? Do they help with recovery? Or are they just a fad?
Compression garments were originally based on the concept of the compression stockings in patients suffering from and/or preventing deep vein thrombosis (DVT or blood clots) in the legs and furthermore, also assisting these patients when travelling on aeroplanes. The compressive stocking support does this by decreasing the amount of swelling from improved blood and lymphatic circulation reducing the risk of those blood clots forming and those ankles ballooning out.
When it comes to the compression garments used in sport and physical activity, the same concepts apply. The compressive nature of the garments helps to improve blood circulation resulting in faster warm up times and increased transportation of oxygen to muscles and improved muscle temperature regulation thereby decreasing the risk of injury. The gradient compression also plays a major role in improving muscle recovery. The increased blood/lymphatic circulation increases the removal of lactate released in working muscles allowing for muscle to repair in shorter time frames which in turn improves recovery times.
The designs of the garments are not just for appearances either; brands including 2XU and SKINS claim to be biomechanically designed to help align the muscles and therefore reducing muscle oscillation, reducing muscle fatigue, muscle soreness and risk of a strain injury.
Although compression garments used for sport is still relatively new, more and more research is being undertaken and excitingly proving the true benefits and validity of using the compression garments to improve performance and recovery. With the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) on board continually researching and more studies emerging through reputable sources like Pubmed, we only need to now try them for ourselves and see what they are all about.
From personal and professional experience, I am all for the compression garments!