Compression sportswear, usually made from spandex and worn by athletes, have clear benefits as far as protecting your body. Not only do they cling to your body, making sure your skin is protected from the harsh elements, they are reported to keep your muscles in optimal shape for performance. They also make a great addition to athletic clothing for women who prefer to wear traditional uniforms for games like lacrosse.
Some of the undisputed benefits of compression clothing are that they keep your muscles warm while resting, which prevents strain and fatigue. According to physical therapists and medical transcription experts, a common sports injury results from muscles becoming cold and stiff during cold-weather situations and becoming more susceptible to strains. They also wick away sweat so you feel cool and comfortable with no chafing. If you play sports with a lot of sliding, like baseball, you can buy shorts with padding at the hips. They help to keep underwear in place, and men are increasingly choosing compression shorts over the old-fashioned jockstrap: they do the same job more discreetly.
New technology can offer greater compression than before in a seamless design for minimal chafing. Some even offer a massage-like feel. One brand claims to create a stabilizing field for your muscles. Another is created with small hexagonal pads to redistribute force during impact. Advances are ongoing in the field of antimicrobial, wicking fabrics to keep skin dry and clean.
Compressing muscles reduces sports injuries and unnecessary tiring by focusing the direction of the muscle. It also allows you to maintain your jump performance. A study reported in Journal of Sports Sciences found that, compared to loose-fitting gym shorts, compression shorts did not affect the sprint times of track athletes, but they did lessen the angle of hip flexion. Skin temperature during warm up increased more, in a shorter time. Muscle oscillation decreased during landing, and the compression garment helped the hamstrings at the end of the swing phase while sprinting. The shorts also reduced impact force by more than 25 percent when compared to football pants.
According to The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, compression clothing can shorten the amount of time your muscles need to repair themselves. It also reduces your soreness and recovery time and the buildup of creatine kinetase, which is a sign of tissue damage. However, another study published in Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport could not replicate these gains in recovery time in its study. Something else to keep in mind is that these studies are conducted on college or professional athletes, and any gains they see may not be apparent for recreational players. Of course, the psychological effects of wearing compression clothing may be another factor in improving performance, but a study of that scope has yet to be conducted.
So, compression garments might be able to help you warm up and recover more efficiently. They can help your muscles do more using less energy and lower the probability and severity of injury. They can even reduce embarrassment on the field and in the locker room. You may be able to run and jump longer, but how about faster, or higher? Research seems to concur that they do no harm and may protect you from injury, but any improvements in performance are small and inconsistent. Obviously, every athlete will have a different experience, so if you’re interested, check out compression gear for yourself. If your workout and recovery are more enjoyable, that’s an improvement worth paying a little extra for, but don’t expect a big change in your performance.
About the Author: Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education to technology to public policy, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead. Learn more about Elaine and her Web site at: