Compression Gear for Runners: Does It Really Do Anything?
A few weeks ago, I was joined on the podcast by Teal Burrell.
We had a great chat, and one of the things that we talked about was the fact that she has written some articles looking at some of the different trends in the running world and the science behind them.
One of the the articles we touched on during our conversation was the increased prevalence of compression gear for runners, from socks to sleeves to tights and a whole lot more, and what said compression gear actually does (or doesn’t do) for runners.
I loved her article, and I think many of you guys will enjoy reading it as well, so I thought I’d share it with you.
As tight as they are bright, compression socks, sleeves, shorts, and pants promise to boost performance and recovery. But scientists aren’t entirely sure how—or if—compression gear works as advertised, questioning its usefulness in competition and recovery. We might be better off, they say, lounging around in compression than we are racing in it.
There is moderate evidence to support wearing compression gear after a long race or workout. Jessica Hill, a sports scientist at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, England, tested the gear’s effect on recovery in two groups of marathoners. When asked to hold a squat the day after the marathon—a formidable task—those who immediately and continuously donned compression leggings post-race (removing them only to shower) reported less quadriceps soreness compared to those in the control group. Hill also reviewed 12 studies examining compression gear and recovery. The resulting data showed compression gear provided a modest reduction in soreness and muscle damage while restoring both leg strength and power, possibly by reducing inflammation. “For an athlete who needs to do lots of training programmed quite closely together that could be an advantage,” Hill says. For others, “The only benefit they’re likely to get out of it is probably reduced soreness.”
But scientists are beginning to ask if minimizing inflammation is desirable goal, particularly in the middle of training; inflammation may be what forces muscles and bodies to build back stronger.
I hope you’ll take the time to click over to the Outside website to read the full article, and after you’ve done so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
Do you swear by compression gear while running? Only during recovery? Never even tried it? Whatever your experience, please share it in the comments below.
And I’ll be sharing my experience with compression gear on Friday’s quick tip post/episode. So stay tuned!
What is Your Take on Compression Gear for Runners?
I have compression calf sleeves which I will wear during long runs and races, especially when I am feeling dead leg. I also have the Compression tights; however, I only wear these for recovery afterward. Each has met my respective needs effectively.
Nice! I’m really thinking about getting some tights, especially for the times that I fly into a race and then am flying home the next day (or sometimes the same day!) to wear on the airplane.