I was inspired to write about how athletic compression improves your game after doing the research for my last post When to Wear Compression Socks. While that post focused primarily on medical uses, this one will focus on the benefits of compression for athletics.
Next time you’re watching your favorite sports team, pay a little extra attention to what they’re wearing. Notice a trend? From figure skaters to football players, nearly every professional athlete wears some form of compression gear. In sports, compression gear is worn to enhance performance, improve recovery, and regulate body temperature. But does compression gear actually work? Or is it all just a placebo effect.
Does Compression Improve Performance
Compression clothing wrapped tightly against your skin and muscle can help to control your gait, increase flexion and extension, and minimize muscle vibration. Altogether, these benefits can reduce your risk of injury. Simply put, when your joints and muscles are properly positioned, the likelihood of tearing a ligament or tendon is decreased. This is how athletic compression improves your game. When it comes to specific performance benefits, you might have a hard time finding supporting evidence. Most studies have found no difference in speed and agility. However, one study did find an increase in vertical jump performance.
Compression Gear and Temperature
Athletes who perform in hot weather use compression gear to control their body temperature. Thin, body-tight fabrics such as spandex can block solar rays and wick away sweat. When sweat evaporates it takes energy away from the body, keeping you cool.
If you’re looking to improve your game you’ll want to consider the end game as well. While studies aren’t showing a massive improvement during exercise, you will notice the improvement in your post-workout recovery. With the right amount of compression, these garments can improve venous return and muscle oxygenation. By wearing compression garments while exercising, you will experience less pain, a greater range of motion, a reduction in muscle soreness and swelling.
One may think that wearing compression garments regularly may be a benefit. However, I’ve found that more is not necessarily better. It is best to use compression garments as needed and not continuously wear them.
Another option or addition is to get a massage immediately after an intense exercise session. You could try to massage yourself by focusing on the body parts you can reach, such as legs and arms. Although treating yourself to a professional massage would be my ideal scenario.
Post-workout massage or pneumatic compression (PC) has been shown to lower overall muscular fatigue, muscle pain, and soreness. A PC is an inflatable device, like the cuff they slip on while checking your blood pressure. They’ve designed similar devices for all of your limbs to assist in the elimination of swelling and metabolic waste.
Is Compression Safe for Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be even more demanding on one’s body than athletic competition. For pregnancy, there are numerous compression garment options. Some companies have made leggings with light, graduated compression. These types of leggings also provide some light belly support. A pregnant belly band can help you to address abdominal and lower back pain. These bands help to support proper posture and strengthen core muscles.
Belly bands will help to increase blood circulation and prevent swelling and discomfort. As a bonus, compression around the leg area will also reduce the risk of varicose veins. Since this is such an important time in a woman’s life, getting all the support needed is essential. There are no timeouts here!
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