Compression gear…what have you done for me lately?
Compression gear is something you may have heard of or seen professional athletes or weekend warriors use while playing basketball or football or doing cross-fit workouts. Manufacturerers of this gear promise enhanced performance and better recovery. Being curious about such claims I needed to learn more.
First, what is compression gear? It’s clothing that is really tight and can be socks, calf or arm sleeves, shorts, shirts, or tights. Studies that have shown that when you wear compression gear during a hard workout, your performance in subsequent workouts may be better than if you hadn’t worn compression gear. This may in part be due to increased blood flow from compression helps to restore muscle glycogen levels and to clear metabolic waste. Basically the support and blood flow helps your body not only potentially for performance but also for recovery. This is where my curiosity piques.
I personally have compression socks and calf sleeves. Recently I put my calf sleeves compression gear to the test in three different ways.
1.) Air travel - Typically sitting down in an airplane for extended periods of times leave my feet a little swollen and legs feeling heavy. I wore my compression calf sleeves (they fit from your ankles to your knee) during the flight. My legs felt great after the flight and no swollen feet. This particular flight was less than three hours so not that long. I have worn the sleeves on longer flights and had similar results. Note I also stayed hydrated and avoided alcohol.
Some folks wear “support socks” and such to reduce the risk of getting DVT (deep vein thrombosis) or blood clots while flying. According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of developing DVT on flights up to four hours is small, but increases as travel time increases.
Bottom line my legs felt better after the flight than they normally due.
2.) Long dinners - curious what I’m going to say about this one? Recently I attended a two and a half-hour dinner that included lots of food, beverages, and of course, sitting. I know from past experience that my feet and legs swell from sitting for long periods of time in uncomfortable shoes. I looked at the outfit I was going to wear and you guessed it, grabbed my compression sleeves. I had dress pants on so easily got away with wearing the sleeves (please don’t tell the fashion police). Normally after such a dinner I would try to walk with feet so swollen that it would be painful. Not this time!
3.) Hard workouts - after some resistance training I found a hill and did some sprint work up it. Next day shins a little bit sore. This did not stop me however, from climbing a mountain (literally) the next day. That was about three hours of moving over rocks and my legs i.e. shins were hurting. Came back and put on the sleeves. Legs are still a little sore but definitely felt better after wearing the sleeves. Remember these help with blood flow and clearing out metabolic waste which aids in recovery.
The ones I wear are Skins which you can get on Amazon. Also 2XU and UnderArmour have a wide variety of compression gear. There are also some brands that have little “pockets” in the gear in which you place ice packs. The company that makes these ones is 110% Play Harder. This is a really good one-two combo; compression and cold. Helps even more in recovery. I”m looking into getting some of these as well or doing the “duct tape” approach to save some pennies.
Go to my Facebook page to see my gear along with other items I fly with i.e. non-plastic water bottle, raw almonds, Goji berries (superfood that tastes good and is good for you), and Warrior energy bars.
I will continue to wear my compression gear for recovery. I may not wear it to any more dinner parties but it does work for me.
To your journey,
P.S. Checkout my Facebook page