Do you really get the best bang for your buck with compression gear?

Published On : 2017-05-10

A number of us may have seen compression gear such as knee-length socks, calf sleeves, arm sleeves or tights that are worn by men seeking to gain the advantage in either a tennis court or a gym. The jury is still out on whether there is any science that can be attached to the compression garments and stockings market, all the insistent claims by companies notwithstanding. Several studies conducted have only shown marginal, if any benefits in athletic performance except in one highly important area – Recovery.

Compression garments and stockings linked to recovery

The most convincing study related to the role of compression garments and stockings in helping workout recovery was a review and meta-analysis published in the Physiology & Behavior journal in January 2016. After taking into account a comparatively small number of studies that were between two to fifteen, researchers concluded that compression garments and stockings could improve muscle recovery, but further corroboration is needed before it can be definitely confirmed. The reason for the benefit seen in recovery isn’t very clear at present. While some studies attributed this to lactic acid being cleared from the muscles, others see a muscle swelling reduction as the main factor. Most importantly, 15 studies showed improvement in ‘perceptual measurement’.

In short, people who look to the compression garments and stockings market feel better after their purchase. It is very difficult to determine if wearing compression garments and stockings truly help coaches or athletes. However, it would be foolhardy to discount the so-called placebo effect where opinions can make a massive difference. A growing body of evidence pointing to the role of compression garments and stockings in recovery could mean that it may not matter if there is a physiological or mental effect in the long run, as long as there is some kind of benefit. Several high-profile coaches have begun to advise their athletes to wear compression garments and stockings after a long, hard run at the end of the day.

The importance of compression garments and stockings

The main objective of the compression garments and stockings market is the promotion of good health by way of effective blood circulation from the feet, up the calves, thighs, right up to the heart and lungs and back. While a study in 2015 showed no substantial difference between running with or without compression garments and stockings, there are some NBA players who still swear by them. One should ideally seek out compression garments and stockings with higher pressure levels at both the ankles and feet, reducing the ‘squeeze’ further up the limb. Compression profile is typically measured in mmHg to determine pressure. A lower number indicates lighter pressure applied. Compression garments and stockings designed for sports have a range of between 15 to 20 mmHg, while those meant for medical use and recovery are from 20 to 30 mmHg.

The evidence is still quite mixed when it comes to the compression garments and stockings market. On top of that, the gear is quite expensive. That is why a customer must be very careful and not just opt for any product that has the compression label on its cover. If the mere look is desired, one could just purchase a pair of tights and save a lot of cash! There is a massive difference between ‘compression gear’ that is merely skin tight and gear that complies with medical standards. As always, thorough research would go a long way in the compression garments and stockings market.