The benefits of compression, explained

We consult the experts over at SKINS.

By Julia Giampietro • 4 years ago • HEALTH & FITNESS, STYLE


When it comes to taking your training from zero to a hundred real quick, compression wear is hailed as the holy grail for achieving peak performance. Sure, there’s loads of other factors to consider; overall fitness levels, stamina, endurance and energy expenditure – but is compression wear the common denominator that enables all of the above to do their job? Can the simple act of slipping into a pair of compression tights before your sweat session be the difference between a good and even better workout? We get technical with the experts over at SKINS.

“There are several benefits to compression but the main ones would be increased blood flow and muscle support, as all the other benefits are by-products of these two,” explains J’aime Brierty of SKINS. “Oxygen is a vital ingredient in the production of the energy you need when you exercise. Increased blood flow helps with oxygen delivery by boosting circulation and getting blood back to your heart faster so it can re-oxygenate and get back out to your hard-working muscles.”

“The muscle support helps to stabilise major muscle groups and reduce vibration as you exercise. This [in turn] reduces unnecessary energy expenditure and also helps minimise the risk of [overuse] injury by reducing swelling.”

Case in point: Compression works to do all sorts of smart little things to keep you training harder for longer, and assist in speeding up recovery. How many times have you woken up the day after an intense training session unable to walk up a flight of stairs or lift your arms to blow dry your hair without dying a little inside? Yep, we’ve all been there.

“Wearing compression during and post workout can help reduce muscles soreness and in some cases eliminate it all together, which will help you get back in the game quicker,” advises Brierty. “This impacts how often you train or how hard you push yourself in your next session.”

Anyone who’s purchased an item of compression before (whether it be a pair of tights, crop or top) would know that they usually come equipped with a long list of promises, but is the term itself being thrown around too lightly? With so many different activewear brands on the market, is there a way to tell the difference between genuine and false claims? A ‘tight fit’ doesn’t necessarily mean compression, Brierty goes on to explain.

“Look out for key words like ‘Gradient Compression’ or ‘Graduated Compression’ in the product descriptions or packaging,” advises Brierty. “This means that the garment fits tighter around the extremities (I.e. the calf) and gradually decreases as it moves up towards the heart.”

“Also, check for a detailed size chart that uses your height and weight to determine the best fit for your body. If compression is too tight it can restrict blood flow, and if it’s too loose then there’s not much point in wearing it.”

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an elite athlete, cyclist or marathon runner to reap the benefits of compression, insists Brierty. “Compression provides a benefit to anyone who works out and wants to get the most out of each and every session. Regardless of individual physiological demands or workout intensity, “you exercise to get results and you get results faster if you’re able to work out harder, longer and more often.”

SKINS have conducted more than 20 studies proving the benefits of compression which have been peer reviewed and published in medical journals.

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