Does Compression Clothing Increase Physical Performance?

Michele Warg
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Compression clothing has increased in popularity with professional athletes and active individuals across the world. It is common to see people running with compression socks, biking with compression shorts and lifting weights with compression arm and elbow sleeves. The new craze with tight-fitting clothing leads many to believe compression benefits physical performance and recovery.

Many physical fitness experts subscribe to the philosophy that compression clothing protects muscles and ligaments from injury and affords athletes with the means to perform at an optimal level. According to a study published in Men's Health, runners wearing compression socks increased the percent of their pace from 1.5 to 2.2, ultimately running 4 percent longer. Compression sleeves, shirts, shorts and socks push blood through the veins, acting as a circulatory pump that may provide more of a competitive edge.

The primary benefit of compression clothing is more so attributed to an athlete's recovery. Ironman triathlete Ben Greenfield wears compression tights to aid with blood flow during intense activities but also to reduce fatigue and swelling. Compression skins worn on the quads, hips or glutes squeeze blood back to the heart, ultimately slowing fatigue. When worn for a few hours after a workout, compression attire applies pressure to cut down on inflammation. Another study published in Men's Health asserts that compression socks were a key factor in reducing lactic acid among a group of cyclists over the age of 60.

Physical fitness aids, such as compression clothing, can also be worn to prevent injury or help with injury recovery by protecting sore muscles and ligaments. Individuals with swollen ankles can wear compression socks on long drives or sitting for long periods of time, such as during long flights, to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the legs.

Compression clothing may also help increase energy and performance on the job. People at risk for blood clots who sit behind a desk for long periods of time may benefit from socks that increase blood flow. Compression shorts worn under business attire may help with energy by reducing common mid-day fatigue. The body often needs a boost during a long work day and a short walk or a trot up the stairs in compression shorts or socks may provide needed energy to make it through the day, even if you are not an athlete. Tight clothing worn under a business suit or dress may be the key to boosting your physical and mental performance on the job.

Whether you are on the job or competing in a professional sport, compression clothing may boost energy, reduce fatigue and soothe sore muscles. As a result, performance is likely to be physically and mentally enhanced when you are dressed for success.

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