It feels like a flashback to the exercise videos of the 1980’s – compression wear is here! Although being ignored for quite some time they are now making their way back into the spotlight and into both women’s and men’s closets. They promise improved performance, simply by wearing them. Are they worth the money and is compression gear actually able to offer more than just a nice, tight butt?
WHILE WORKING OUT
New research shows that wearing compression gear can help with the overall performance of the muscle underneath. When working out, the muscle can actually get inflamed, and in response to such an inflammation the body increases fluids and sends white blood cells to the affected areas. An increase in pressure, swelling and pain is the consequence. Compression gear works by constricting the affected area; it puts pressure on the muscle. There is no fluid build up, no swelling, therefore no pain.
“Compression garments also may increase blood flow to the muscles, which removes creatine kinase, an enzyme in your muscles that leaks out after muscle damage and can cause the ache,” says Jessica Hill, M.S.c., a U.K.-based exercise scientist who authored a 2013 review on the topic, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
When tested on athletes compression wear actually showed little to no effect: A small group of athletes was told to wear tights, while another group was told to run in their normal exercising gear. After a 10km run blood samples were taken and after comparing oxygen intake and running gate they showed little difference.
Another study found that marathoners who wore compression tights in the 24-hours after crossing the finish line felt less sore, but not completely ache free. They did experiences faster muscle recovery.
So, should you fork out the money for gear that may or may not work? Research does not give clear results as to whether wearing compression gear actually helps athletes exercising.
The general rule regarding controversial results: It’s up to you. There doesn’t seem to be any harm in wearing compression gear and if at all, it will help you recover from an exhausting workout (rather than preventing it). Furthermore, the mind is the master. Placebos have been clinically proven to work! If it feels good, it is good, and reason enough to stick to it.