Compression gear is available in most sporting wear stores these days, ranging from compression pants, compression tops, compression sleeves as well as compression socks. They even have a wide range of compression swimwear. So what’s the science behind it and is it worth spending hundreds of dollars investing in a new workout wardrobe?
There are two main reasons you might consider wearing compression gear:
- To enhance your performance during exercise
- To speed up your recovery and reduce soreness after exercise
The science behind both is not exactly rock solid. There have been dozens of studies done, but all using varying levels of compression and tracking different outcomes for different types of activities. When you look at the body of research as a whole it’s pretty hard to draw any conclusive conclusions. Some have shown positive effects, others have shown them to have no effect.
The studies testing whether compression gear can enhance performance during exercise are the most inconclusive. Some studies show some marginal improvements in performance for high intensity explosive sports like jumping or sprinting. But only at elite performance levels and not even all studies agree.
Where there is more evidence of benefits from the use from compression gear is in recovery and reducing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) after exercise. Several studies have shown positive results for reducing the effects of DOMS with regards to heavy work exercises like weight lifting, sprint training and HIIT workouts.
If you are involved in a high level of any specific sport or exercise, compression gear may be able to offer some benefits. But you would need to look into the research for the specific activity that you are participating in and the benefits from use that you are hoping to achieve (more power, endurance, recovery etc.). There are just too many possible variations to cover in this blog.
If you are just interested in compression garments as a casual gym user, it really comes down to personal preference. You are not likely to see any significant improvements in your performance or recovery, but at the same time it won’t do any harm. So if you have the money, and like the look/feel of wearing compression garments, then go for it!