Compression Garments Ultimate Guide – Compression Wearables

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Compression Wearables is dedicated to providing you with the latest information and news regarding compression garments. Please continue to read this page for our ultimate guide to this type of gear. You can explore different types of compression clothing using our navigation menu above, such as compression shorts, compression sleeves, compression pants and leggings, compression shirts, and compression socks.

compression wearables


What is compression wear?

calf compression sleeveCompression apparel is a variety of clothing including shirts, pants, shorts, sleeves, socks, underwear and other items which are made of engineered fabric that fits tightly to the shape of your body, applying pressure to your muscles and tissues. These garments are made of materials such as Nylon, Lycra, and Neoprene, and maintain their form regardless of the intensity of use. Many types of this clothing have unique material that will offer a graduated form of compression to your body, for example, a leg sleeve will be tighter around the ankle compared to the knee area. Muscle stabilization is an important characteristic of this type of clothing. This apparel will cause muscle restriction and help to maintain muscle alignment, therefore helping to prevent damage to them. To receive the full benefits of compression gear on your body, it is very important that you obtain correctly fitted garments.



What are the main compression apparel benefits and how do these garments work?

elbow compression sleeveMany athletes today are seen to be wearing different types of compression attire. In particular, triathletes at all levels wear skin-tight compression gear. Compression sleeves, shorts, tights, and undergarments are worn by professional athletes in basketball, football, tennis, rugby, and other competitive sports. Most of the benefit of wearing this type of gear is related to the impact on your body following physical activity. Athletes wearing this clothing may experience less fatigue and muscle soreness.

These garments are known to reduce muscle oscillation (muscle movement/vibration) due to the compressive force they provide. This is thought to improve muscle contraction, enhance efficiency and running kinematics, and reduce the likelihood of injuries. Compression attire is said to help maintain levels of oxygenated blood, thereby elevating muscular function.

Compression apparel such as socks and stockings have long been known to help people with poor blood circulation, offering support to body tissues and encouraging blood to pump back up to the heart. When your blood circulation is normal, contractions of your muscles help to move blood towards the heart.

In sports, these type of garments works in a similar manner by assisting muscle contraction and increasing blood flow. Venous blood (deoxygenated) flows at a lower pressure than oxygenated blood. A leg sleeve with a varying level of compression, for instance, will feel tightest around the ankle, therefore applying more pressure to your ankle and calf muscles. This force at the lower end of your leg improves the flow of venous blood towards your heart. Venous blood movement from your extremities creates improved blood circulation, even when your body is not in motion. A significant advantage of wearing these garments is improved blood circulation. Professional athletes who must travel on long journeys may wear these sleeves or leggings to maintain a consistent and enhanced blood flow, and reduce muscle fatigue in preparation for upcoming sports events.


What should I look out for when buying compression wear?

Where possible, try the clothing on! Some people may find the pressure applied from this clothing to be more powerful than they expected, but that is the intent of these types of clothes. Keep in mind that just because a clothing item is tight, it may not be an actual compression garment and therefore you would not receive the positive effects that true compression gear offers. This apparel should have a snug fit, without restricting your movement. Apparel that features a higher amount of compression (graduated) will produce more noticeable effects to your body. In general, higher cost compression clothes will create an increased and longer lasting compression, and the improved material quality will be more durable.  When considering the cost versus the quality of the gear, take into account your needs. If you are a competitive runner for example, then a higher quality compression garment may be more suitable, since it will offer improved muscle recovery. If you engage in recreational sports or gym workouts a few times a week, then a garment that offers moderate compression may be ideal. Garments designed to apply graduated compression work most effectively. The majority of the brands listed further below have graduated compression apparel.

Engineered compression apparel fabric may also feature wicking, designed to transport sweat and moisture away from your body and through the garment to the exterior environment, allowing it to evaporate more rapidly. Some of these garments may have odor control properties. Additionally, if environmental temperature is a concern, take a look at whether or not the material can keep your body cool in heat, and/or keep your muscles warm in the cold.

Some compression apparel may be labelled as a “recovery” compression garment. These types of garments are more suited for use following a workout or strenuous physical activity, rather than during workouts. Recovery compression apparel is designed to maximize the compressive forces they apply to your muscles, in order to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness.

If you feel that a garment such as a sleeve or compression brace may assist you in injury recovery and management, or in alleviating an illness, you should first consult a healthcare professional for advice.

If you decide to order online, ensure that you read customer reviews and available sizing charts to find correctly fitted compression apparel. Also be aware that many of these products are unisex and can be used by women or men. Furthermore, numerous types of this clothing will have alternative colors and styles.


What are the best compression gear brands?

Some of the most well known compression brands include SKINS, 2XU, CEP, Zensah, CW-X and EC3D. All of these companies have high quality apparel.


What does current scientific research say as to the effectiveness of compression wear for intense physical activity?

A 2012 study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined 14 athletes who completed two 40 km cycle trials within 24 hours. This trial was conducted twice, once with compression leggings, and on a separate occasion with regular sports leggings. It was found that the athletes completed the cycle trial faster when wearing compression leggings.

In 2014, research was published in Gait and Posture showing that compression leggings improved balance for athletes, and suggested that compression garments may be useful in injury management and prevention.

A study in 2014 published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine examined the placebo effect of wearing a compression shirt for experienced cyclists. It was found that by wearing the shirt, the cyclists perceived increased benefits for riding posture, postride posture, spine discomfort and postride recovery. However, this study did not investigate the physiological effects on the cyclists’ bodies.

A 2010 study exploring the effects of compression garments on muscle recovery after sprinting and plyometric exercise over 24 hours showed a minimal impact on performance, but lower levels of perceived muscle soreness.

A review of over 30 studies in 2013 focused on the effects of compression wear on performance and recovery. It was found that using this type of clothing caused a small to moderate impact on strength and power, and may assist athletic performance and recovery.


Is compression apparel really effective in improving my athletic performance?

compression pantsAs an overview, there is significant evidence to suggest that after exercise, compression clothing can help to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. The placebo effect of wearing this clothing is significant, with some studies showing that by wearing and believing in the effectiveness of these garments, you can achieve improved performance and recovery. However, there is a lack of research as to the benefits of this clothing during athletic performance, with some studies suggesting little to no impact on the body. Further investigation is needed to confirm whether there are any significant benefits to the body during performance.

There is no known study to date to suggest that compression apparel has a negative effect on the body. If you take part in athletic sports or any physical activity regularly, wearing this clothing may at least enhance your muscle recovery. Numerous studies show that compression apparel can minimize delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Additionally, if you are required to travel for significant periods of time before taking part in sports, this clothing can promote blood flow, and therefore your muscle function. If are on your feet for hours at a time for work or other reasons, gear such as a calf or leg compression sleeve will help your muscles pump blood optimally.

Also, compression attire can protect your arms and legs from minor cuts and scratches when working out. Another advantage of using this clothing is during injury management. Compression gear such as calf sleeves offer additional support to your leg muscles, potentially relieving some of the pain and stress from injuries. Due to the tightness and firm fit of compression apparel, they can potentially improve your natural body posture.