Compression Gear is often Touted as The Secret to Recovery – True or False?
Since the 1980s, spandex in sports and exercise seems to have grown exponentially. And compression gear is not only prevalent in sports. Athletic compression gear is a spin-off of original Medical Leggings, which have been used for decades to treat blood clots and certain circulatory disorders, according to the Globe and Mail. Medical leggings use “graduated” compression, which squeezes more the farther they are from the heart. This prevents blood from pooling in the legs; that’s why you see people on planes, trains, and at work wearing them.
What’s The Deal With Compression Gear?
Compression stockings are specialized garments that put therapeutic pressure on your legs in order to increase circulation and prevent fluid retention (edema/swelling) during prolonged periods of sitting and standing or in those with venous diseases. Compared to traditional hosiery, compression stockings fit more snugly and use stronger elastic to apply a gentle squeeze to the legs and feet.
Generally, compression gear comes in all forms – socks, sleeves, long tights, and shirts. The idea behind compression gear is that it increases blood flow throughout the body. Improved blood flow helps bring oxygen to the muscles that need it, and is often used by athletes and amateurs alike for recovery after exercise. Conversely, increased blood flow helps remove unwanted byproducts of exercise including lactic acid away from the muscles.
However, the science on compression gear is mixed. The reasoning: there are conflicting results on optimal use. Generally, it’s believed that compression gear helps with recovery and that this recovery helps next-day or succeeding performance. However, it’s also believed that compression gear does not aid in the performance itself. For example, wearing compression socks during activity. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone as not all strive for athletic greatness.
For The General Population,
Compression apparel shines are around controlling swelling and enhancing circulation. If you experience swollen calves from sitting for prolonged periods at work, compression sleeves may help control circulation. Professions where prolonged standing or sitting include education, travel, retail, restaurants, medical, civil service, manufacturing, and construction.
Compression from apparel can help:
- Reduce the incidence of blood clots
- Reduce the incidence of varicose veins
- Prevent complications resulting from Diabetes
- Prevent complications resulting from veinous disorders
Others may enjoy compression gear purely for comfort.
What Does The Science Say?
The largest benefits resulting from compression gear (CG) were for strength recovery from 2 to 8 hours and >24 hours. Considering exercise modality, compression most effectively enhanced recovery from resistance exercise, particularly at time points >24 h. The use of CG would also be recommended to enhance next-day cycling performance. The benefits of CG in relation to applied pressures and participant training status are unclear and limited by the paucity of reported data.
Another study, from Frontiers in Physiology in 2018, found the following effect of compression gear on DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness):
Active recovery, massage, compression garments, immersion, contrast water therapy, and cryotherapy induced a small to large decrease (−2.26 < g < −0.40) in the magnitude of DOMS, while there was no change for the other methods.
As you can see, there are benefits, it just depends on what you’re looking to get out of compression apparel.
Where Can I Buy Compression Gear?
We carry leading brands at Feet First Clinic including Sigvaris, high quality and innovative medical compression solutions that improve health and well being. Drop-in compression wear fitting is offered during clinic hours Monday-Saturday and is a complimentary service. No is appointment required.
Compression stockings must be the correct size in order to get optimal benefits. Feet First Clinic has certified fitters on staff who will determine your specific size based on measuring the circumference of your ankles, calves, thighs, and hips.
Do I Need A Prescription For Compression Stockings?
Compression Question? We Can Help!
We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve your concern with the least amount of discomfort as possible. Call us even to ask about a quick question and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!
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