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the science behind compression gear
Professional, and even amateur, athletes are always looking for an edge to help them improve
their performance and reduce recovery time.
Compression clothing first appeared over 50 years ago. Compression socks or stockings where
first used to treat a condition known as lymphedema. When the body's lymph isn't drained
properly causing limbs to swell. Doctors saw compression socks as a way to treat vascular
problems too. The gradual pressure from the ankle up the leg helps the body pump blood in the
leg back up toward the heart. Effectively, countering the effects of gravity. Bed ridden patients and
people with circulation issues, gained the most out of this discovery.
Over the past few years, a lot of compression clothing manufacturers have sprung up, all
marketing themselves to sportspeople. And they all make some impressive claims. They all list
the benefits of using their brand of stretchy, skin-tight tights, from increasing your muscle strength
to preventing muscle pain after practise or competition.
Despite all the claims and personal testimonials, there is still controversy surrounding the
effectiveness of compression clothing and sportspeople. With our own ranges of women and
men's compression gear available, we decided to set the record straight.
There have been a number of studies into the claims by compression gear companies. We're
going to fill you in on which of these claims are scientifically tested and which aren't.
One claim, is that compression gear helps improve endurance during performance.
The reason given, by squeezing blood vessels, they're forced to dilate. This allows more oxygenrich blood to reach the surrounding muscles so they can work harder, for longer while removing
the muscles' waste, at the same time.
Then add compression gear's gravity reducing effect, an athletes' heart works less improving
overall endurance and enhanced performance during exertion.
There were two separate studies on effects of compression gear on endurance – one from the
European University in Madrid and the U.S. National Centre of Biotechnology Information. Both
studies found that there was a decrease in fatigue and improvement of maximum heartrate in the
test subject wearing compression gear.
Manufacturers claim that wearing compression gear after exercise reduces recovery time.
The reason given is that lactic acid, the
chemical compound formed when muscles burn energy, builds up in the muscles after physical
exercise, quicker than it's removed. The build-up of acid changes the PH in muscle tissue causing
A well-known cure, is to increase the supply of oxygen-rich blood to muscles removing the built up
Compression gear was developed to assist blood flow, to and from, muscles. Making this claim
entirely possible. Over the years compression gear has grown to include women and men's
compression gear, arm sleeves, stocking, full tights and long sleeve tops. So you can assist the
removal of lactic acid from most muscles with the strategic placement of pressure applied by
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning conducted tests that found wearing compression gear
reduced lactic acid levels, even after a minute in one test. And almost all the test participants
suffered less, or no, soreness the next day.
The soreness experienced after competition and training also caused from the vibrations and
swaying of muscles during exercise. Compression gear supposedly reduces these effects by
keeping muscles firmly in place.
Scientist at the University of Exeter and Massey University in Auckland, tested compression gears
effects on soreness. They found that athletes performed better in strength tests and experienced
less pain while completing the exercise.
This research didn't come to any strong conclusions, but it serves to support all the personal
claims made by athletes around the world. Performance is less taxing and muscles that were
supported by compression gear are significantly less painful than if they hadn't used the
So far the tests are done mostly support the benefits of compression clothing. And a fair amount
of proof is beginning to pile up in favour of compression clothing. So tell us, what's your best