By NATALIA HAWK
Some teenagers worked at Maccas or coffee shops to make a bit of spare cash on the side. I worked at a sports store, attempting to sell compression gear to customers who came in and were somewhat seduced by the shiny boxes and yet still apprehensive.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term: compression gear is the umbrella phrase for really, really tight-fitting pieces of exercise garments. They can be tights, they can be socks, they can be tops. You’ll likely see them on professional footy players under their shorts, or on every other person who’s at the gym.
The main thing: they need to be tight. Obviously not so that they cut off the circulation – that would defeat the purpose entirely – but you want to barely be able to pull any excess fabric away from your skin when the compression gear is on. That’s when the benefits come into play.
So what are the benefits, anyway? Compression gear is supposed to improve recovery and enhance performance – so that you can not only train for longer, but you also recover faster. This from the Australian Government Sports Commission:
it appears the use of compression garments may have a positive effect on athletes during exercise and during recovery periods following exercise. As no studies have reported negative effects on exercise performance or perceptions of pain, the use of compression garments may provide a useful training tool for athletes across a wide variety of sports… In particular, some studies have reported that compression garments can improve muscular power, strength, enhance recovery following intense exercise and improve proprioception.
There is plenty of competing information out there on the Interwebs about the true effectiveness of compression garments. Some believe that they’re absolutely amazing; others believe that they do just about nothing and that it’s all in your head.
I can only speak personally in that I have drunk the compression Kool-aid BIG TIME. I’ve been wearing them for years now; I don’t feel any particular difference in performance, but recovery is huge for me – I don’t feel nearly as sore the next day when I wear compression tights during a workout and for an hour or two afterwards.
I also wear compression tights and a long-sleeved top when skiing – because skiing is damn painful and it means my muscles don’t ache quite so much when I’m trying to concentrate on schnapps while at apres-ski. You can even wear compression gear while travelling to improve jetlag and reduce your chances of DVT.
So. Have I convinced you yet? Let me take you through some of the major brands and their various benefits.