Compression Clothing: Performance Enhancer or Fitness Fad?
Whether you are an average fitness enthusiast or a professional athlete, having that extra edge during training and events can be the difference between winning and losing.
Each year, a new fitness accessory or supplement seems to find its way into the mainstream with claims of helping you achieve that extra boost you need. From fat melting creams to shaking weights, to special teas that help you lose weight, there is no shortage in items that have been proclaimed to be the next big thing.
Unfortunately, the science does not always hold up to these claims.
Although compression garments have been used for a number of years, the explosion in their popularity is a recent event. All types of athletes, from golfers to runners, are using these compression garments in order to improve performance.
Are compression garments just another failed fitness fad or are they the real deal? A number of scientific studies are proving compression garments to be a valuable fitness tool, so we asked Tristan Hill, Australian fitness expert to provide some more insights for us. Take it away Tristan!
How do Compression Garments Work?
According to a study published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, wearing compression garments can help to increase blood flow throughout the body. When you slip on one of these tight fitting garments, you are engaging the circulatory system in a much more efficient manner. Blood vessels are forced to contract and expand, allowing a steady flow of nutrient-rich blood and oxygen into the muscle fibers. With this increased and efficient blood flow, heart rate tends to decrease, even during high intensity exercises.
Increased blood flow translates into improved muscular performance. As a vehicle for nutrients, an advanced rate of blood flow will help to provide the large amount of oxygen needed during high intensity exercise. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that subjects wearing compression garments had a significant improvement in overall performance. Baseball pitchers saw an improvement in fastball accuracy while golfers demonstrated enhanced driving, shot, and chipping accuracy.
As mentioned above, your blood flow is how nutrients and oxygen are delivered to locations throughout the body. After an intense workout, muscle fibers will incur micro tears. These tears are the cause of muscle soreness. Proper delivery of needed nutrients will help the healing process. While wearing compression garments, this process is accelerated as the rate of blood flow is vastly improved.
A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance reviewed a number of research and clinical trials to determine whether all of the claims made within were true. The study revealed that compression garments were, indeed, an effective way to increase the recovery rate of athletes. Those subjects wearing compression gear showed a reduction in muscle swelling and perceived muscle pain following exercise. Measurements confirmed that there were lower levels of blood lactate and increased levels in body temperature.
One of the few proven trendy fitness accessories to come along, compression garments are an inexpensive and convenient way to boost your performance while increasing your rate of recovery.