What is Compression Clothing and what is it for?

Many times you will have seen runners who use compression socks, stockings or pants when they go running, especially in races. But do you know what compression garments are really for?

In this article I am going to reveal to you what compression clothing is, how it works, its benefits and the types of garments that you can find on the market according to your needs.

Compression Clothing

Image Credit

Compression Clothing: What is it?

Compression garments began to be used for medical purposes as a method of postoperative treatment decades ago. Its main function was the recovery of muscle tissues and the activation of blood circulation. Later they were applied to other specialties, as in the case of cosmetic surgery or in treatments for thrombosis.

In the early 1990s, compression clothing also began to be applied to elite sports, in disciplines such as athletics and gymnastics. Its main goal was to maintain body heat without sweating in sports that required strength and speed. One of the pioneering brands that began to market this type of clothing for sports purposes was Under Armor.

Today, its use has become widespread and even become fashionable among the most advanced runners. It’s easy to go out for a run and find someone wearing tights, stockings, socks, or even a full bodysuit that’s very tight on the body. Without a doubt, these are the compression garments I am talking about and they are the latest in innovation for runners.

There are many benefits that the use of this type of clothing can bring. Although the main reason that runners usually have when using them are to improve their running performance and speed up recovery after training.

Compression Clothing: How Does It Work?

As compression clothing is a form of close-fitting sportswear that puts pressure on your muscles, this pressure promotes blood circulation during exercise (up to 40%) and post-race recovery during rest (up to 30%).

It also works by significantly reducing fatigue during exercise and minimizing the ripple effect and vibrations of the muscles when running, thereby also reducing the risk of injury.

Another aspect for which it is worth buying compression clothing is because it will help you improve your posture when running. In addition, the extra contribution of stability and firmness that this type of garment gives you is ideal for achieving more stable and efficient movements.

Although countless studies have been carried out with runners to find out if their performance improves with and without them, the truth is that so far none have been enlightening. You should not expect a miracle solution when using them.

As for recovery, it is possible to notice improvements in the medium or long term, especially if you do long and intense races or you dedicate yourself to trail running.

Benefits of Compression Garments

The advantages that you can benefit from if you decide to use compression clothing are quite a lot, and here is a sample of them:

benefits of compression garments

Image Source

  • Maintain body heat and transform sweat into vapor to avoid humidity.
  • Reduce discomfort due to vibrations from the impacts made when you run.
  • Improve and accelerate the recovery of muscles after exercise.
  • Facilitate the circulation and oxygenation of the blood in the area of ​​the body where you wear these garments.
  • Improve the drainage of accumulated toxins due to its breathable function.
  • It helps reduce the risk of injury and relieve swelling or inflammation.
  • Increase the runner’s resistance and reduce the sensation of fatigue in the race.
  • Reduce the appearance of chafing or blisters.
  • It can help to improve your times and race performance.
  • It helps improve stability and posture when running.

Types of Compression Clothing

Today, there are compression sports garments for practically the entire body: socks, stockings, t-shirts, tights, legs, sleeves etc. And, depending on the need, there are also different models: recovery, competition, protection, etc.

Now I am going to tell you what some of the most used compression garments by runners are for:

  • Compression Stockings: These are responsible for applying pressure from the ankle to the calf reducing vibration. They try to improve performance and facilitate your recovery after training.
  • Recovery Compression Stockings: Improve oxygen levels and blood flow. You can wear them to sleep or throughout the day to facilitate muscle recovery.
  • Compression Tights: These are responsible for providing extra support to the knees and quadriceps. Their function is to reduce vibration and notably improve the runner’s posture, since they normally include an abdominal belt.
  • Compression Shirts: These are essential to improve the runner’s posture while exercising. That pressure helps improve stability and firmness in the chest for greater oxygen intake.

How to Wash Compression Clothing

The fabric with which these garments are made is very technical and delicate, and believe it or not, it is very important to be clear about how to wash this type of clothing so that these do not get damaged, lose their properties or cease to be useful after the first wash..

Take a look at the manufacturer’s recommendations; since depending on the material they are made of, they will require specific care. However, most of them are usually garments made with elastane, so the washing procedure is usually similar.

The most recommended is hand washing. Simply rinse the garment with cold water and hang it to dry. If you prefer to put it in the washing machine, use a special program for delicate clothes and use a normal soap, without softeners.

Never use the dryer, since the probability of damaging the fibers is very high. It is also not advisable to use the iron on them. You will only get the fibers to heat up and melt, losing their elastic and compressive properties. If you are still not sure how to wash them, ask the seller or the brand directly before damaging them.

Do you dare to try compression garments?

Now you know all the benefits that wearing compression garments can bring you. Its use will help you improve your performance or promote the recovery of your muscles after training.

If you have a tendency to suffer discomfort, cramps or injuries in certain muscle areas, it would be interesting for you to try them to see if you notice any kind of improvement.

On the other hand, if you are going to start running longer distances or wants to start venturing into trail running, it can also be a good option to prevent injuries or improve your posture as a runner. Until you try them you won’t know, so dare!