Compression fabric (or clothing) puts controlled pressure on key muscles to support them and improve blood flow. This reduces lactic acid buildup and boosts oxygen levels, improving your performance and recovery.
Studies show athletic compression clothing increases power output, delays fatigue onset, and speeds muscle recovery.
Increased Blood Flow
The main purpose of compression clothing is to improve blood flow and clearance of waste metabolites, including lactate and carbon dioxide. During workouts, this can lead to higher power output and less fatigue1.
Originally developed for medical purposes, with benefits for those with circulatory issues, compression garments have become essential for athletes of all levels. From HIIT sessions and 5K running to ultra-endurance sports, research indicates that compression garments can enhance performance through several factors, including an increase in blood flow (peripheral flow and venous return), alteration of sub-maximal oxygen usage (running economy), reduction in muscle vibration that decreases stability, a boost in the removal of myofibrillar protein metabolites (blood lactate and creatine kinase) and a reduction in post-exercise recovery time4.
Using a moisture-wicking fabric is also important. It can draw sweat away from the body and help it evaporate faster, which helps optimize circulation. Proper placement of the garment is important as well. Ensure it covers the muscles you’re targeting but does not restrict movement.
Reduced Muscle Soreness
Studies have shown that wearing outer performance compression fabric can reduce the onset of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after exercise. This may be due to compression garments restricting the movement of the muscles, thus limiting fluid accumulation and power swelling post-exercise.
Aside from helping with the recovery process, compression fabrics are also known to improve the markers of muscle blood flow and exercise performance after an intense workout. This is largely because they increase muscle blood flow, which helps reduce lactate levels and improves heart rate and oxygen consumption.
Compression garments can also help with running the economy. While this isn’t something you can directly control, runners who believe in the power of compression clothing run more efficiently than skeptics.
In addition to increasing blood flow, many of the compression fabrics on the market have moisture-wicking properties. This is important because it helps prevent the material from soaking up too much sweat, which can lead to bacteria and other unpleasant smells. The fabric’s breathability is also important, allowing you to move and sweat without your clothes weighing you down.
Increased Muscle Performance
In addition to increasing blood flow, compression fabric supports muscles, which may also reduce muscle vibrations and oscillations. This reduced movement helps minimize soft tissue damage and can increase your power output.
Athletes who wear sports compression apparel have reported faster times in workouts, better jump ability and more endurance. This is due to the improved blood flow that allows for higher oxygenation of the muscles, allowing you to work out harder and longer.
Compression garments can also be worn during recovery periods to improve circulation and help the body eliminate lactic acid and other waste products. This can speed up recovery and help you hit your next personal best in the gym.
Listen to your body and adjust the tightness to make the most out of your compression garments. Staying hydrated is also important, as proper hydration will optimize circulation. Try wearing multiple layers to provide extra warmth or protection as required.
Research in compression garments has found they reduce muscle fatigue by stabilizing muscles and reducing shock-generated damage to the powers that cause them to ache after exercise. This may help prevent the development of excess lactic acid and other metabolic waste, which can lead to muscle fatigue.
The compression of the fabric can also help reduce muscle oscillations during dynamic activity, which is likely to decrease muscle damage and fatigue. Some researchers have even found that runners who wear compression socks believe they run more efficiently than those who don’t, and this can lead to a positive placebo effect that has the same effects as other recovery techniques, like drinking water or ultrasound.
The best compression clothing is made with cotton because it’s breathable, which allows air to circulate and reduces sweat buildup. This is important because you could overheat if the fabric doesn’t breathe. The cotton also gives the material a soft feel and provides a bit of stretch, which helps make it more comfortable to wear while exercising or playing sports.
If you’re a sports fan, you may have seen professional athletes wear garments with extra fabric stretched across their calves or thighs. This is called a compression garment, and it’s said to improve circulation and enhance muscle performance.
A popular piece of compression clothing for runners is a pair of socks. Studies have shown that when you believe in the power of compression socks, you can run faster and recover quicker.
However, other research has found that compression socks do not improve running economy or decrease the rating of perceived exertion (RPE).
Regardless, compression garments have many benefits during exercise and recovery. Whether it’s a compression garment or not, getting your body into optimal condition is the key to success. A compression garment can help improve circulation, so we recommend wearing one before and after your workout. The right training gear can also prevent muscle soreness and injury, making it easier to get the most out of every session.