“I feel faster”.
That is straight from Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III who is a strong advocate for compression wear. He attributes compression pants for his speed. These days it is almost impossible to watch any sports event like running, basketball or even football without seeing some sort of compression wear being worn.
Compression wear, especially compression pants has some very real physiological benefits. Add to this the physical benefits and it is easy to see why people get hooked on the gear.
If you have ever had a massage then you know how your muscles feel afterwards. Similarly, when compression pants or shirts are worn, you can expect the same kind of results. Research has shown compression wear to significantly reduce swelling and fatigue.
Challenging the Mindset
In one study recently, 60 cyclists were tested after wearing compression socks. They had a staggering amount of less lactic acid due to using these garments. Compression gear acts like a circulatory pump, gently pushing the blood through the veins and providing more oxygen. Who doesn’t need this? An increase in oxygen is beneficial to a strong, healthy body.
Whether you are an aspiring athlete or a weekend-walker, you can find positive attributes by slipping into a pair of compression pants. First off, they look cool on and meticulously define the body by tucking in problem areas and magnifying the glorious muscles which do exist. People just look fit wearing them. With that, your mind-set is going to change to accommodate this healthy feeling. If you feel like you are doing something great for your body, your body will respond to this in a positive way.
Add that to the pressure of a massage-like feeling happening all over your body, extra oxygen flowing through, and muscle oscillation and you have a recipe for the perfect design of clothing.
Research for Recovery
Research is aggressively being done to nail down this wide-spread clothing phenomenon as to say one way or another compression wear works. Yet ask the people who advocating it through sporting competitions and exercise circles, they may verbalize what research is slow to prove.
Compression clothing affects the rate of recovery due to the inflammatory response of overworked or damaged muscles. This accelerates the repair process. Dr. Ali Ajmol published a study in the Journal of Sports Sciences which found compression socks reduced all the symptoms leading up to DOMS. In addition, Jakemans’ study, published just this year, found compression pants quite effective in reducing muscle soreness following any plyometric training.
Athletes depend on a quick recovery and greater mobility which explains their draw towards compression clothing. Expediting a sore muscle recovery means they can bounce right back into their training load.
What are equally important factors to consider with compression clothing is the two main forms of recovery-psychological and physiological. Compression pants, shirts, socks and sleeves all exist to tackle both forms. Many studies highlight the psychological perception of compression benefits, although researchers are still not agreeing on the physiological benefits.
Yet, is it not a fact that the mind is a powerful vehicle to health? How many times has it been said ‘if our mind perceives a positive experience, our body emulates a positive reaction’. This is one concept science agrees on. The mind is a direct river to the body. It is only logical to extend this scientific fact to that of compression clothing.
Compression wear is a medically proven vehicle to improving processes of body function. If this were untrue, compression socks would not be the ‘go-to’ article after surgeries, or to be worn on planes to prevent Deep Leg Thrombosis. Take compression socks and create the same design in other clothing like compression pants and shirts, and this is a recipe for multiple health benefits in the human body. Not just privy for athletes, but for new moms, or moms-to-be. It can be for obesity (to improve circulation and reduce edema) or even for the common Joe. Why not? There is a well-kept secret with compression wear as functional clothing, and the secret is emerging into mainstream quite fast.
It won’t be long until studies confirm what most compression wear advocates already know-functional clothing works. As with any new concept, there will be those skeptics who cannot wrap their minds around huge ideas, but there will always be those who see potential and bravely test the waters of innovation.
This will be a topic worth re-visiting over and over, if only to look back and applaud the trail-blazers for bringing such amazing clothing into the 21st century.