From brightly coloured knee-highs to calf and arm sleeves, compression garments promise better muscle recovery and in some cases, better performance. We couldn’t help but wonder if the obsession with compression is truly game-changing or just a goofy style throwback to the days of Keds and tube socks. We asked two of our run ambassadors if they buy into the gear.
Friends, strangers and athletes, I’m here to tell you: embrace the compression, love the compression, and the compression will hug you back!
Compression – it comes in many forms. Tights, crops, shirts, tanks, arm sleeves, calf sleeves, socks. You name the body part and it can be outfitted in snug, muscle-loving fabric. The gear increases blood circulation to your tired, hardworking muscles and reduces lactic acid buildup for quicker recovery post-workout. As for wearing it during activity, it probably won’t make a difference to your race times, despite the few scientific studies out there that claim it boosts performance.
Me – I love the squeeze. It’s like a constant massage on my tired legs when I shimmy (and shake and jump and wiggle) into my compression tights. Wearing my compression socks post-race is the foot rub that nobody wants to give me. It is seriously awesome-amazing.
run ambassador linda wong – nay! (well, impartial but that doesn’t rhyme)
I got my first pair of compression socks about two years ago. Word on the street is that they are supposed to help with recovery so I was open to a little experimenting! I went on a few longs runs and then sported my socks when I got home. The verdict – I didn’t really notice anything; I am completely indifferent. I did however continue to wear them but mostly just because I haven't worn knee highs since grade school and it was fun.
I asked a few medical professionals what their thoughts were and these were the basics of what they had to say:
- Unless you're going to put your feet up and wear your compression socks, you're not really using the compression socks to the full effect. Standing and walking around after a workout only causes your blood to pool – gravity is still in effect my friends!
- There are so many different brands of compression socks out there - some are good, some are not so good. Medical ones have different "grades" based on your needs and calf size. It’s definitely a good idea to do your research if you’re going to invest.
My conclusion - with many things in this world, do what works for you. I can't say that I'm a full-on believer of them but I'm not ruling it out just yet.
So, is compression worth all the hoop-la or is it just another costume piece for runners who are trying too hard?
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