Whether you’re at the gym or on the running trails, you’re more than likely to spot someone wearing some sort of compression gear. From the socks to the sleeves and in every color to match your workout outfit, they have a reputation that promises support, better circulation and an overall performance boost.
While studies have shown that compression equipment can help improve exercise energy expenditure and speed up recovery efforts, how you use it is just as important, if not more so. “Not all cuts are equal,” says Fred Hernandez with PRO compression. It’s important to understand how to size your gear and know the right times to wear it. To get the most benefit from it, here’s everything you need to know about compression wear.
The stream of benefits
Why do people choose to wear compression garments? The reasons vary from adding muscle and joint support during a workout to easing post-workout soreness. And if you’ve ever experienced DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), you know firsthand how intense the pain can be.
The increase in circulatory efficiency by manipulating your arteries is what drives all the benefits you see from this supportive wear. “The great thing about compression equipment is that anyone can use it and reap the benefits,” says Robin Hodges, Exercise Physiologist, LMT at 89 & Ivy Massge Therapy in Bentonville, AR. And with regular use, you get better performance in the gym and faster recovery. even reducing the amount of lactic acid buildup. Reduced swelling and pain, along with improved circulation, are key to helping people recover from intense workout efforts, standing or sitting all day, injuries and ailments. that affect the lower legs.
Wearing compression stockings while exercising increases blood flow to the specific limb, which then fuels your muscles during your workout and helps filter lactic acid from your muscles. This increased volume facilitates the filtration process and therefore produces a faster recovery. Not to mention that compression leg sleeves can also act as a barrier against skin abrasions during certain lower body movements such as the deadlift.
Not surprisingly, the benefits go beyond the gym and into the workforce where people are on their feet all day. “Compression socks and sleeves are very popular among the medical community, including nurses, doctors, therapists and technicians who often work 12-14 hour or longer shifts,” says Hernandez. The added support of compression socks helps reduce swelling in the legs and feet, helps with joint support and helps with varicose veins.
The Perfect Fit: How to Size Your Sleeves
When it comes to choosing your compression gear, size matters. According to Hodges, compression sleeves are designed to be snug but stretchy. “They don’t need to be uncomfortably tight because that can cut off good blood flow,” she says. You want to feel supported but be able to have a full range of motion during exercise.
Most compression brands come with a recommended size chart, either on their website or on their packaging. When choosing the right size for compression equipment, simply measure the body part you wish to support and select the recommended size for your sleeve.
For example, for a cuff you will need to measure your biceps, and for a compression sock you will need to measure the widest part of your calf and your shoe size. Keep this simple rule in mind: if you’re not able to move around in it comfortably, it’s the wrong size and you may need to size up. Once you have the compression that works best for you, get ready to reap all the benefits!
When to compress
Timing is everything. For the best performance results, Hernandez suggests the most optimal times to wear compression gear are both during your workout and during your post-workout recovery.
During training, compression equipment brings oxygen-rich blood to the muscles, which is filled with nutrients and hydration. It also reduces vibration, which can improve muscle efficiency and mechanics. During the recovery period, the constant compression helps reduce inflammation and swelling, as well as eliminate lactic acid promoting faster (and less painful) healing.
Wearing compression during these two important moments will complement each other and bring many benefits.
Try it: Graduated Compression
Once you have your measurements, the next step is to make sure you have high quality material. “When choosing the compression sleeve, it’s important to choose a good quality one and not a cheap material,” says Hodge. After all, you are investing in your body and you need the best quality possible. This is where Graduated Compression stands out from the rest.
What is that? Graduated compression equipment puts pressure in just the right places to increase blood flow and help repair damaged soft tissue. PRO Compression explains, “The further you move away from your core, the more compression you feel; promote optimal circulation. The goal is to get your blood flowing to your heart better when running upright or sitting down in a business meeting.
So if you’re looking for a new compression sleeve or looking to try one for the first time, remember: size, quality and timing will make your compression wearing experience the most effective. possible !