When shopping for new workout clothes, you've probably noticed tights, shorts, and shirts labeled "compression." But do you know what that means or why it matters? As the names suggests, compression clothing is designed to squeeze the muscles, holding them in place and increase blood flow. Why does that matter? Some companies claim it can improve your athletic performance and endurance, but that has not been scientifically proven. In fact, Men's Journal published an article about an experiment conducted by a group of runners who tested the benefits by running on treadmills without wearing compression, and then again with compression sleeves on their lower legs. The result? There were no physiological benefits that came from the group wearing the sleeves---their running stride and length was the same.
Though they may not help you jump further or sprint faster, compression garments do have post-workout benefits. Another study showed a reduction in heart rate and lactic acid after 30 minutes of interval sprints with compression, as well as a drop in the amount of muscle damage and soreness.
For me, I have found compression clothing to help with recovery, and I wear them when I know I'm going to have an intense leg workout, or if I'm coming off of a few days of exercising and my legs are fatigued. However, they aren't the most comfortable workout clothes, and may take some getting used to because of the tight fit. I can best describe it as trying to peel off a wet shirt --it's hard to remove without a little bit of a struggle. Personally, I love fitted workout gear but even I find myself buying a size or two larger in compression clothing for a more comfortable fit.
Some of my go-to brands for compression with style are NIKE, Under Armour & Second Skin. Check them out, and if you've tried compression clothing let me know your opinion--and some of your favorite brands!