The Sneaky Benefits of Compression Gear

Compression gear – it’s everywhere.

Pro athletes wear so much of it that the only skin they show is of their faces. It also doesn’t seem to matter what sport, Crossfitters, weight lifters, basketball players, football players, if there is a competition being held, and an edge to be had, you can bet your bottom dollar that compression gear will be being worn.

But how much of it is hype? Even though athletic apparel companies will happily tout the benefits of compression clothing, how much of it is grounded in reality? Is wrapping yourself up in hundreds of dollars of nylon and spandex for your workout routine really going to do anything?

As with most products designed to boost athletic performance the truth isn’t as awesome as we would like it to be, while also not being as bad as some of the detractors will say. The only thing that has been consistently found in research on compression clothing is that it is helpful in recovery, while being far from conclusive when it comes to boosting performance at the time of exertion.

Here are four benefits of wearing compression gear that are backed by research and studies:

1. PROMOTE BLOOD FLOW.

Compression gear has been shown to increase blood delivery. The increase of blood flow was initially found in patients suffering from varicose veins—compression pants were found to be helpful in increasing circulation to affected areas. Good circulation is critical, and even more so for athletes who are looking to send back up in the form of nutrients, oxygen and minerals to muscles starving for them.

2. REDUCED SORENESS.

Tough workout? Put on some compression garments–studies have found DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) to be reduced when worn following strenuous exercise. We’ve all had that debilitating soreness following a brutal leg workout. While compression gear won’t completely remove the long, hobbled descent down a flight of stairs, it will help lessen the misery so that you can get back to training sooner than later.

3. INCREASED RECOVERY.

Studies on athletes have shown that sprint times get faster and time to fatigue increases after wearing compression gear. This is the main benefit to wearing compression garments—accelerated recovery. For athletes and gym-goers this is exactly the kind of benefit they are looking for. Even though a faster recovery isn’t a performance benefit directly, it does indirectly help boost long-term performance by shortening the amount of time necessary to get back under the bar.

4. DECREASED ENERGY EXPENDITURE.

Research on runners has shown that energy expenditure went down went compression pants were worn during treadmill sprints. While the performance benefits of compression gear have been a little mixed and inconsistent, across numerous studies participants wearing compression gear reported a slightly easier rate of perceived effort (RPE) when working out.

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